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Transferable control

  • Mathias Dewatripont

In this paper, we introduce the notion of transferable control, defined as a situation where one party (the principal, say) can transfer control to another party (the agent) but cannot commit herself to do so. One theoretical foundation for this notion builds on the distinction between formal and real authority introduced by Aghion and Tirole, in which the actual exercise of authority may require noncontractible information, absent which formal control rights are vacuous. We use this notion to study the extent to which control transfers may allow an agent to reveal information regarding his ability or willingness to cooperate with the principal in the future. We show that the distinction between contractible and transferable control can drastically influence how learning takes place: with contractible control, information about the agent can often be acquired through revelation mechanisms that involve communication and message-contingent control allocations; in contrast, when control is transferable but not contractible, it can be optimal to transfer control unconditionally and learn instead from the way in which the agent exercises control. (JEL: C70, C72, D23, L2) Copyright (c) 2004 by the European Economic Association.

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Paper provided by ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles in its series ULB Institutional Repository with number 2013/9649.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:ulb:ulbeco:2013/9649
Note: Conference paper presented at: Francqui Colloquium(8th: 19-21 November 1999: Brussels)
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  1. Bengt Holmstrom, 1979. "Moral Hazard and Observability," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 74-91, Spring.
  2. Legros, Patrick & Newman, Andrew, 2000. "Competing for Ownership," CEPR Discussion Papers 2573, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  4. Hart, Oliver D. & Moore, John, 2005. "On the Design of Hierarchies: Coordination Versus Specialization," Scholarly Articles 3448676, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Bengt Holmstrom, 1982. "Moral Hazard in Teams," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 324-340, Autumn.
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  8. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 2002. "Relational Contracts and the Theory of the Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 39-84.
  9. Philippe Aghion & Patrick Bolton, 1992. "An Incomplete Contracts Approach to Financial Contracting," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(3), pages 473-494.
  10. Aghion, Philippe & Dewatripont, Mathias & Rey, Patrick, 2002. "On partial contracting," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 745-753, May.
  11. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817, June.
  12. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1994. "A Theory of Debt Based on the Inalienability of Human Capital," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 841-879.
  13. Eric Maskin & Jean Tirole, 1999. "Unforeseen Contingencies and Incomplete Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 83-114.
  14. Eric Maskin, 1999. "Nash Equilibrium and Welfare Optimality," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 23-38.
  15. Ilya Segal, 1999. "Complexity and Renegotiation: A Foundation for Incomplete Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 57-82.
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