The Value of Extended Delegation in Dynamic Agency

Posted: 8 Jul 2012

See all articles by Barbara Schöndube-Pirchegger

Barbara Schöndube-Pirchegger

Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg

Jens Robert Schöndube

Leibniz Universität Hannover

Date Written: July 7, 2012


One of the main advantages of delegation is that specific department level information is used. Its main disadvantage is probably that central management looses direct control over certain actions. In this paper we challenge this widely accepted trade-off. We show that delegation might be favorable even if specific knowledge is completely absent. We consider a firm that lives for two periods. Due to its organizational structure part of the tasks and decision rights is inevitably delegated to a subordinate (agent). The agent performs the tasks assigned to him, tantamount to personal effort, in each of the two periods. Besides this effort the decision to implement a particular project has to be made at the beginning of period two. With regard to the project choice, central management can decide to delegate it to the agent (decentralization). Alternatively it can make it personally (centralization). If the project choice is decentralized it remains unobservable for central management. Along with second period effort it must be motivated via an incentive contract written on period output.

We analyze two different contracting regimes: long-term commitment and long-term renegotiation-proof contracts. With full commitment we find that centralization is indeed favorable as compared to delegation if no informational advantage exists. This confirms conventional wisdom. However, the result does not necessarily hold with renegotiation-proof contracts. Renegotiation-proofness may force central management to set too low second-period incentives. Delegation counteracts this effect as it allows central management to implicitly commit to a higher second period incentive rate. This arises as both, personal effort and the project choice, rather than effort alone need to be motivated. A necessary condition for too low second-period incentives, and thus for delegation to be favorable, is a negative intertemporal correlation of output.

Keywords: Delegation, Incentive Problem, Commitment, Project Decision

JEL Classification: M4

Suggested Citation

Schöndube-Pirchegger, Barbara and Schöndube, Jens Robert, The Value of Extended Delegation in Dynamic Agency (July 7, 2012). Management Accounting Research, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Barbara Schöndube-Pirchegger (Contact Author)

Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg ( email )

Universitaetsplatz 2
Magdeburg, 39106

Jens Robert Schöndube

Leibniz Universität Hannover ( email )


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics