Adaptive Contracting: The Trial-and-Error Approach to Outsourcing

  • Morten Bennedsen
  • Christian Schultz
Part of the Studies in Economic Theory book series (ECON.THEORY, volume 25)


Adaptive contracting occurs when a principal experiments with the delegation of authority through leaving contracts incomplete. We highlight two potential benefits of adaptive contracting: First, the delegation of authority can be advantageous even if the agent acts opportunistically, since expected private benefits will be shared between the parties through price negotiation. Second, the principal extracts information from experimenting with delegation of authority and we identify a positive option value embodied in the principal’s ability to extend or withdraw the delegated authority in future contracting periods.

Key words

Incomplete contracting Trial and error Authority Outsourcing Procurement 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Morten Bennedsen
    • 1
  • Christian Schultz
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsCopenhagen Business SchoolFrederiksbergDenmark
  2. 2.Institute of EconomicsUniversity of CopenhagenKøbenhavn K.Denmark

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