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Are non-binding contracts really not worth the paper?

Bernd Irlenbusch ()

Managerial and Decision Economics, 2006, vol. 27, issue 1, 21-40

Abstract: We experimentally investigate behavior in sequential one-shot transactions which are governed by non-binding contracts. In a second, incomplete information treatment, contracts are binding for some players. While according to traditional game-theoretical analysis no trade is expected in the first treatment, full trade should result in the latter. However, we find that trade is even higher in the non-binding contract treatment. On the one hand, non-binding contracts-although they are cheap talk-do guide behavior, especially at the beginning of a business relationship, while reciprocal reactions prevail later on. On the other hand, in the treatment with binding contracts cooperative behavior appears to be crowded out. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Date: 2006
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:wly:mgtdec:v:27:y:2006:i:1:p:21-40

DOI: 10.1002/mde.1243

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