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The Hold-up Problem Under Common Agency

Author

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  • Antonio Nicita

    ()

  • Simone Sepe

    ()

Abstract

Many real world transactions occur in a common agency environment in which an agent interacts with several principals having competing interests. The hold-up literature, however, has so far neglected to investigate common agency transactions. In this paper, we consider the hold-up problem that arises in a context where there are a monopolistic seller and multiple buyers on the one side and all the parties on the other are required to make specific self-investments. Our contribution is twofold. First, we show that absent initial contracts (i.e., preliminary agreements) between the parties, total efficiency increases when the buyers act competitively using implicit contractual coordination, i.e., contractual menus. Second, we show that introducing initial simple contracts allows parties to reach the first best only under cooperative common agency. Absent this machinery, competition among the principals emerges as a more efficient governance structure for common agency in incomplete transactions.

Suggested Citation

  • Antonio Nicita & Simone Sepe, 2012. "The Hold-up Problem Under Common Agency," Department of Economics University of Siena 636, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  • Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:636
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    File URL: http://repec.deps.unisi.it/quaderni/636.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Georg Noldeke & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1995. "Option Contracts and Renegotiation: A Solution to the Hold-Up Problem," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 26(2), pages 163-179, Summer.
    2. Francine Lafontaine & Kathryn L. Shaw, 2005. "Targeting Managerial Control: Evidence from Franchising," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(1), pages 131-150, Spring.
    3. Claude Ménard, 2004. "The Economics of Hybrid Organizations," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 160(3), pages 345-345, September.
    4. Chiesa, Gabriella & Denicolò, Vincenzo, 2009. "Trading with a common agent under complete information: A characterization of Nash equilibria," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(1), pages 296-311, January.
    5. Francine Lafontaine, 1992. "Agency Theory and Franchising: Some Empirical Results," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(2), pages 263-283, Summer.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    incomplete contracts; common agency; mechanism design;

    JEL classification:

    • K12 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Contract Law
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General

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