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Consumers and Agency Problems

Canice Prendergast

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

August 2001

NBER Working Paper No. w8445

Consumers solve many agency problems, by pointing out when they believe that agents have made mistakes. This paper considers the role that consumers play in inducing efficient behavior by agents. I distinguish between two case: those where consumers have similar preferences to the principal, and those where consumer preferences diverge from those of the principal. In the former case, allowing consumer feedback improves allocations, and increasing consumer information is unambiguously beneficial. In the case where consumers disagree with principals over desired outcomes, which characterizes many benefits given by the public sector, consumers feedback about the performance of agents can reduce welfare. This may result in efficiently restricting the ability of consumers to complain about agent performance.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 23

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Date posted: August 26, 2001  

Suggested Citation

Prendergast, Canice, Consumers and Agency Problems (August 2001). NBER Working Paper No. w8445. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=281076

Contact Information

Canice Prendergast (Contact Author)
University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )
5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-7309 (Phone)
773-702-0458 (Fax)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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