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Moral Hazard, Dynamic Incentives, and Ambiguous Perceptions

Martin Dumav

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Abstract: This paper considers dynamic moral hazard settings, in which the consequences of the agent's actions are not precisely understood. In a new continuous-time moral hazard model with drift ambiguity, the agent's unobservable action translates to drift set that describe the evolution of output. The agent and the principal have imprecise information about the technology, and both seek robust performance from a contract in relation to their respective worst-case scenarios. We show that the optimal long-term contract aligns the parties' pessimistic expectations and broadly features compressing of the high-powered incentives. Methodologically, we provide a tractable way to formulate and characterize optimal long-run contracts with drift ambiguity. Substantively, our results provide some insights into the formal link between robustness and simplicity of dynamic contracts, in particular high-powered incentives become less effective in the presence of ambiguity.

Date: 2021-10
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cta, nep-hrm and nep-mic
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