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The role of institutions in the contractual process

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Abstract

Human beings increase their productivity by specializing their resources and exchanging their products. The organization of exchange is costly, however, because specialized activities need coordination and incentives have to be aligned. This work first describes how these exchanges are organized in an institutional environment. It then focuses on the dual effect of this environment- as with any other specialized resource, institutions may be used for expropriation purposes. They enjoy specialization advantages in safeguarding exchange but they also make possible new forms of opportunism, causing new costs of exchange. Three perverse tendencies are identified:In the legal field, there is a surplus of mandatory rules and, at the same time, a deficit in default rules. Second, courts’ activity is biased against the quasi-judicial role of the parties and the market. Third, Market enforcement is based on reputational assets that are badly exposed to opportunism.

Suggested Citation

  • Benito Arruñada, 2000. "The role of institutions in the contractual process," Economics Working Papers 521, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Apr 2003.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:521
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
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    3. Klein, Benjamin, 1996. "Why Hold-Ups Occur: The Self-Enforcing Range of Contractual Relationships," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(3), pages 444-463, July.
    4. Gonzalez-Diaz, Manuel & Arrunada, Benito & Fernandez, Alberto, 2000. "Causes of subcontracting: evidence from panel data on construction firms," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 167-187, June.
    5. Arrunada, Benito & Garicano, Luis & Vazquez, Luis, 2001. "Contractual Allocation of Decision Rights and Incentives: The Case of Automobile Distribution," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(1), pages 257-284, April.
    6. North, Douglass C. & Thomas, Robert Paul, 1971. "The Rise and Fall of the Manorial System: A Theoretical Model," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(04), pages 777-803, December.
    7. Benito Arrunada, 2000. "The Quasi-Judicial Role of Large Retailers : An Efficiency Hypothesis of their Relation with Suppliers," Revue d'Économie Industrielle, Programme National Persée, vol. 92(1), pages 277-296.
    8. Hermalin, Benjamin E & Katz, Michael L, 1993. "Judicial Modification of Contracts between Sophisticated Parties: A More Complete View of Incomplete Contracts and Their Breach," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(2), pages 230-255, October.
    9. Masten, Scott E & Snyder, Edward A, 1993. "United States versus United Shoe Machinery Corporation: On the Merits," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(1), pages 33-70, April.
    10. Masten, Scott E, 1988. "A Legal Basis for the Firm," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 181-198, Spring.
    11. Klein, Benjamin & Murphy, Kevin M, 1997. "Vertical Integration as a Self-Enforcing Contractual Arrangement," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 415-420, May.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Contracts; institutions; enforcement; safeguards;

    JEL classification:

    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • K00 - Law and Economics - - General - - - General (including Data Sources and Description)
    • K20 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - General

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