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The Ratchet Principle in a Principal Agent Game with Unknown Costs: An Experimental Analysis

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  • Ananish Chaudhuri

    () (Rutgers University)

Abstract

In this paper we consider an experimental two-period game characterized by incomplete information.The agent produces an output for the principal and can have either high or low costs of production. The principal ex ante knows only that each is equally likely. The principal's aim is to extract the maximum possible surplus from the agent. The principal sets an output quota at the beginning of each period and does not commit to a long-term scheme and uses any information that becomes available about the agent's true type in setting next period's quota in order to extract the informational rent. We find that the agents play the game in a naive way - very often revealing their true types through their choices even though such type revelation is not optimal. However frequently the principal does not exploit this information in extracting more of the informational rent from the agent.

Suggested Citation

  • Ananish Chaudhuri, 1997. "The Ratchet Principle in a Principal Agent Game with Unknown Costs: An Experimental Analysis," Departmental Working Papers 199608, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:rut:rutres:199608
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hoffman Elizabeth & McCabe Kevin & Shachat Keith & Smith Vernon, 1994. "Preferences, Property Rights, and Anonymity in Bargaining Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 346-380, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cabrales, Antonio & Charness, Gary & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2006. "Competition, hidden information, and efficiency : an experiment," UC3M Working papers. Economics we071909, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
    2. José Luis Lima R. & Javier Nuñez E., 2004. "Experimental Analysis of the Reputational Incentives in a Self Regulated Organization," Econometric Society 2004 Latin American Meetings 194, Econometric Society.
    3. Gary Charness & Peter Kuhn & Marie Claire Villeval, 2011. "Competition and the Ratchet Effect," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(3), pages 513-547.
    4. repec:hal:journl:halshs-00773412 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Cabrales, Antonio & Charness, Gary, 2008. "“Optimal Contracts with Team Production and Hidden Information: An Experimentâ€," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt29v1b0pg, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
    6. Jacquemet, Nicolas & Koessler, Frédéric, 2013. "Using or hiding private information? An experimental study of zero-sum repeated games with incomplete information," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 103-120.
    7. Gerlinde Fellner & Magdalena Margreiter & Nuria Oses Eraso, 2003. "When the past is present – The ratchet effect in the local commons," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2003-23, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
    8. Ernst Fehr & Klaus Schmidt, 2004. "Contracts, Fairness and Incentives," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000148, UCLA Department of Economics.
    9. Cabrales, Antonio & Charness, Gary, 2011. "Optimal contracts with team production and hidden information: An experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 163-176, February.
    10. Gary Charness & Peter Kuhn & Marie Claire Villeval, 2011. "Competition and the Ratchet Effect," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(3), pages 513-547.
    11. Vital Anderhub & Simon Gächter & Manfred Königstein, 2002. "Efficient Contracting and Fair Play in a Simple Principal-Agent Experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 5(1), pages 5-27, June.
    12. Simon G�chter & Ernst Fehr, "undated". "Fairness in the Labour Market � A Survey of Experimental Results," IEW - Working Papers 114, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    13. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter, 2011. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
    14. Ernst Fehr & Alexander Klein & Klaus M Schmidt, 2007. "Fairness and Contract Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 121-154, January.
    15. repec:eee:gamebe:v:107:y:2018:i:c:p:182-202 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Antonio Cabrales & Gary Charness & Marie Villeval, 2011. "Hidden information, bargaining power, and efficiency: an experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 14(2), pages 133-159, May.
    17. Gary Charness & Peter Kuhn & Marie Claire Villeval, 2011. "Competition and the Ratchet Effect," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(3), pages 513-547.
    18. Cardella, Eric & Depew, Briggs, 2016. "Testing for the Ratchet Effect: Evidence from a Real-Effort Work Task," IZA Discussion Papers 9981, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    19. David J. Cooper, 1999. "Gaming against Managers in Incentive Systems: Experimental Results with Chinese Students and Chinese Managers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 781-804, September.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Adverse selection; Bargaining; Principal-agent theory; Ratcheting; Reciprocity;

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation

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