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Law and Economics

Contracts

2021

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Contract Design When Relationship-Specific Investment Produces Asymmetric Information, Albert H. Choi, George Triantis Jun 2021

Contract Design When Relationship-Specific Investment Produces Asymmetric Information, Albert H. Choi, George Triantis

Articles

Under conventional contract theory, contracts may be efficient by protecting relationship specific investment from holdup in subsequent (re)negotiation over terms of trade. This paper demonstrates a different problem when specific investment also provides significant private information to the investing party. This is fairly common: for example, a manufacturer invests to learn about its buyer's idiosyncratic needs or a collaborator invests to learn about a joint venture. We show how such private information can lead to subsequent bargaining failure and suboptimal ex ante relationship-specific investment. We also show that this inefficiency is worse if the parties enter into a binding and …