Relational Contracts and the Theory of the Firm
41 Pages Posted: 11 May 1997
Date Written: December 29, 1997
We combine Simon's conception of relational contracts with Grossman and Hart's focus on asset ownership. We analyze whether transactions should occur under vertical integration or non-integration, and with or without self-enforcing relational contracts. These four models allow us to re-run the horse race Coase proposed between markets and firms as alternative governance structures, but with four horses rather than two. We find that efficient ownership patterns are determined in part by the relational contracts that ownership facilitates, that vertical integration is an efficient response to widely varying supply prices, and that high-powered incentives create bigger reneging temptations under integration than under non-integration.
Note: this paper was formerly titled "Implicit Contracts and the Theory of the Firm"
JEL Classification: D21, D23, D81, D82
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation