Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Public Contracting in Delegated Agency Games

Martimort, David and Stole, Lars (2011): Public Contracting in Delegated Agency Games.

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Abstract

We study games of public delegated common agency under asymmetric information. Us- ing tools from non-smooth analysis and optimal control, we derive best responses and characterize equilibria (both continuous and discontinuous) using self-generating opti- mization programs of which any equilibrium allocation must be a solution. Special atten- tion is given to common agency games in which each principal’s payoff is a linear function of the agent’s action. In such games the self-generating optimization program reduces to the maximization of the principals’ “aggregate” virtual surplus in which the agent’s marginal valuation is replaced by a confluence of “virtual” valuations that reflect com- mon agency problems. One noteworthy subset of equilibrium allocations are “virtually truthful” which are the incomplete-information generalization of Bernheim and Whin- ston’s (1986) “truthful” equilibria. Virtually-truthful equilibria are simple to calculate and illustrate two distinct sources of equilibrium distortion: inefficient contracting by a given coalition of active principals and inefficient participation (insufficient activity) by principals. Our results are illustrated by means of two games: a public goods game in which each player simultaneously offers a menu contract to a common provider of the public good in order to induce greater supply, and a lobbying game between conflicting interest groups in which each group offers a menu of contributions to a common political decision-maker in an attempt to influence policymaking.

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