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Sticky Incentives and Dynamic Agency

  • Author(s): Zhu, John Yiran;
  • Advisor(s): Anderson, Robert M.;
  • et al.

I explicitly derive the optimal dynamic incentive contract in a general continuous time agency problem where inducing static first-best action is not always optimal. My framework generates two dynamic contracts new to the literature: (1) a ``quiet-life" arrangement and (2) a suspension-based endogenously renegotiating contract. Both contractual forms induce a mixture of first-best and non-first-best action. These contracts capture common features in many real life arrangements such as ``up-or-out", partnership, tenure, hidden compensation and suspension clauses. In applications, I explore the effects of taxes, bargaining and renegotiation on optimal contracting. My technical work produces a new type of incentive scheme I call sticky incentives which underlies the optimal, infrequent-monitoring approach to inducing a mixture of first-best and non-first-best action. Furthermore, I show how differences in patience between the principal and agent factor into optimal contracting.

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