Multi-Task Agency with Unawareness

Theory and Decision, 77(2), 197-222

31 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2012 Last revised: 17 Aug 2021

See all articles by Ernst-Ludwig von Thadden

Ernst-Ludwig von Thadden

Universitaet Mannheim; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Xiaojian Zhao

Monash University - Department of Economics

Date Written: June 1, 2013


The paper introduces the problem of unawareness into multi-dimensional Principal-Agent theory. We introduce two key parameters to describe the problem, the extent and the e ffect of unawareness, show under what conditions it is optimal for the Principal to propose an incomplete or a complete contract, and characterize the incentive power of optimal linear contracts. If Agents differ in their unawareness, optimal incentive schemes can be distorted for both aware and unaware Agents, because, di fferent from standard contract theory, the Single-Crossing Property fails to hold. In this case, even aware Agents can be subject to ineciently high or low incentives.

Keywords: Multi-task agency, unawareness, moral hazard, screening, incomplete contracts

JEL Classification: D01, D86, D82, D83

Suggested Citation

von Thadden, Ernst-Ludwig and Zhao, Xiaojian, Multi-Task Agency with Unawareness (June 1, 2013). Theory and Decision, 77(2), 197-222, Available at SSRN: or

Ernst-Ludwig Von Thadden

Universitaet Mannheim ( email )

Department of Economics
Mannheim, 68131

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels

Xiaojian Zhao (Contact Author)

Monash University - Department of Economics ( email )


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