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Gathering information before signing a contract: A screening perspective

By O Compte and P Jehiel


A principal has to choose among several agents to fulfill a task and then provide the right incentives to perform it. Agents do not a priori know how competent they are for the task. It is shown that the principal should propose a contract that leads the agents to gather information about their competence prior to signing the contract. This insight is in sharp contrast with Cremer and Khalil [J. Cremer, F. Khalil: "Gathering information before signing a contract", American Economic Review, 82, 1992, 566-578] who consider a setup with one agent (or alternatively a setup with several agents in which the private information commonly applies to all agents). It emerges because, in our private value setup, information acquisition accompanied by a proper screening device increases the chance that the principal will pick a competent agent. (C) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved

Topics: information acquisition, screening, principal-agent
Year: 2008
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Provided by: UCL Discovery
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