Controlling versus Enabling

38 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2015 Last revised: 20 Jul 2016

See all articles by Andrei Hagiu

Andrei Hagiu

Boston University - Questrom School of Business

Julian Wright

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Department of Economics

Date Written: July 1, 2016


Revenue sharing between principals and agents is commonly used to balance double-sided moral hazard. We provide a theory of how, when such revenue-sharing is optimal, a principal allocates control rights over decisions that either party could make. We show that the principal either keeps control over all such decisions, or gives up control entirely, and that this choice is aligned with whether the principal chooses to keep more or less than 50% of variable revenues. We explore how moral hazard, contractibility, and spillovers affect this choice. The theory helps explain whether professionals operate as employees or as independent contractors.

The appendices for this paper are available at the following URL:

Keywords: control rights, employment, independent contractors, platforms, theory of the firm

JEL Classification: D4, L1, L5

Suggested Citation

Hagiu, Andrei and Wright, Julian, Controlling versus Enabling (July 1, 2016). Harvard Business School Strategy Unit Working Paper No. 16-002, Available at SSRN: or

Andrei Hagiu (Contact Author)

Boston University - Questrom School of Business ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA MA 02215
United States

Julian Wright

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Department of Economics ( email )

AS2 Level 6, 1 Arts Link
Singapore 117570
6568743941 (Phone)
6567752646 (Fax)


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