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Free Riding in Procurement Design

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  • Barbosa, Klenio

Abstract

Low-powered contracts do not provide proper incentives to reduce cost; still empirical studies show that they are quite pervasive in public and private procurement. This paper argues that low-powered contracts arise due to a free-riding problem when the contractor enjoys economies of scale/scope working for different buyers. A buyer, offering a procurement contract to the contractor, does not fully internalize that higher-powered incentives provide cost reduction in the contractor's activities, benefiting other buyers. As a result, buyers offer lower-powered contracts than what would be designed by cooperative buyers. Strikingly, the higher the contractor's benefits from economies of scope/scale are, the lower the power of the procurement contracts will be. In addition, laws which force buyers to award fixed-price contracts can be welfare-enhancing.

Suggested Citation

  • Barbosa, Klenio, 2009. "Free Riding in Procurement Design," TSE Working Papers 09-128, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  • Handle: RePEc:tse:wpaper:22251
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Susan Athey & Jonathan Levin, 2001. "Information and Competition in U.S. Forest Service Timber Auctions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(2), pages 375-417, April.
    2. Asanuma, Banri & Kikutani, Tatsuya, 1992. "Risk absorption in Japanese subcontracting: A microeconometric study of the automobile industry," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 1-29, March.
    3. David Martimort, 1996. "Exclusive Dealing, Common Agency, and Multiprincipals Incentive Theory," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(1), pages 1-19, Spring.
    4. R. Preston McAfee & John McMillan, 1986. "Bidding for Contracts: A Principal-Agent Analysis," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(3), pages 326-338, Autumn.
    5. Kim, H Youn, 1987. "Economies of Scale in Multi-product Firms: An Empirical Analysis," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 54(214), pages 185-206, May.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    free-riding; procurement; multibuyers;

    JEL classification:

    • H57 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Procurement
    • L24 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Contracting Out; Joint Ventures

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