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Optimal delegation via a strategic intermediary

Liang, Pinghan (2013): Optimal delegation via a strategic intermediary.

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Abstract

This paper studies the optimal design of delegation rule in a three-tier principal-intermediary-agent hierarchy. In this hierarchy, monetary transfer is not feasible, delegation is made sequentially, and all players are strategic. We characterize the optimal delegation mechanism. It is shown that the single-interval delegation a la Holmstrom is optimal only when the intermediary is moderately biased. Otherwise, as responses to the distortion caused by a biased intermediary, the optimal delegation set may involve a hole. Thus, multi-interval delegation set would arise when subordinates have opposing biases. This result sheds some light on policy threshold effects: "slight" changes in the underlying state cause a jump in the policy responses.

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