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Endogenous Property Rights in a Hold up-Experiment

In a hold-up experiment designed to test theoretical predictions following from Hart (1995) and deMeza/Lockwood (1998) regarding investment behavior Sonnemans et al. (2001) (SOS) find only a partial confirmation of theory. According to SOS these deviations from standard theory can be explained by positive reciprocal behavior. In this paper, we replicate the experiment by SOS and add another group of treatments in which asset ownership is endogenized by auctioning off the assets. Our experiment shows that the results by SOS crucially depend on the ownership structure being exogenously assigned by the experimenter. We present experimental evidence that, by and large, corroborates the theoretical predictions made by Hart (1995).

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Paper provided by Abteilung für Volkswirtschaftslehre, Technische Universität Clausthal (Department of Economics, Technical University Clausthal) in its series TUC Working Papers in Economics with number 0002.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tuc:tucewp:0002
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  1. Hackett, Steven C, 1994. "Is Relational Exchange Possible in the Absence of Reputations and Repeated Contact?," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(2), pages 360-89, October.
  2. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt3d04q5sm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  3. Hoffman, Elizabeth & Spitzer, Matthew L, 1982. "The Coase Theorem: Some Experimental Tests," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(1), pages 73-98, April.
  4. Ernst Fehr & Oliver D. Hart & Christian Zehnder, 2008. "Contracts as Reference Points - Experimental Evidence," NBER Working Papers 14501, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1988. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Working papers 495, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. Anderhub, Vital & Königstein, Manfred & Kübler, Dorothea, 1999. "Long-term work contracts versus sequential spot markets: Experimental evidence on firm-specific investment," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 1999,43, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
  7. 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.
  8. Randolph Sloof & Hessel Oosterbeek & Joep Sonnemans, 2007. "Does Making Specific Investments Unobservable Boost Investment Incentives?," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(4), pages 911-942, December.
  9. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
  10. David de Meza & Ben Lockwood, 1998. "Does Asset Ownership Always Motivate Managers? Outside Options and the Property Rights Theory of the Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 361-386.
  11. Fehr, Ernst & Kremhelmer, Susanne & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2005. "Fairness and the Optimal Allocation of Ownership Rights," Discussion Papers in Economics 727, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  12. Hoppe, Eva I. & Schmitz, Patrick W., 2011. "Can contracts solve the hold-up problem? Experimental evidence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 186-199, September.
  13. Hackett, Steven C, 1993. "Incomplete Contracting: A Laboratory Experimental Analysis," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 31(2), pages 274-97, April.
  14. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Sloof, Randolph & Sonnemans, Joep & Oosterbeek, Hessel, 2004. "Specific investments, holdup, and the outside option principle," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(6), pages 1399-1410, December.
  16. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817, June.
  17. Ernst Fehr & Oliver Hart & Christian Zehnder, 2008. "Contracts as reference points � experimental evidence," IEW - Working Papers 393, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  18. Sloof, Randolph & Oosterbeek, Hessel & Riedl, Arno & Sonnemans, Joep, 2006. "Breach remedies, reliance and renegotiation," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 263-296, September.
  19. Sonnemans, Joep & Oosterbeek, Hessel & Sloof, Randolp, 2001. "On the Relation between Asset Ownership and Specific Investments," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(474), pages 791-820, October.
  20. Ellingsen, Tore & Johannesson, Magnus, 2000. "Is There a Hold-up Problem?," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 357, Stockholm School of Economics.
  21. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 2008. "Contracts as Reference Points," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 1-48.
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