Incomplete Contracts, Incentives and Economic Power

Sripad Motiram
JEL codes: 
Working Paper Series

This paper formalizes ideas from classical and radical political economy on task allocation and technology adoption under capitalism. A few previous studies have attempted this, but the framework and results in this paper are different. I model labor contracts that are incomplete owing to unforeseen/indescribable contingencies, leading to Pareto-improving renegotiation and a hold-up problem. Given path dependence, the allocation is sub-optimal, with the extent of inefficiency depending upon the degree of incompleteness. This model captures insights from the above literature on the microeconomic roots of inefficiency and power. It also provides a concrete setting where indescribable contingencies do (or dont) matter – a much-debated issue.