Discrete-Time Approximations of the Holmstrom-Milgrom Brownian-Motion Model of Intertemporal Incentive Provision

57 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2001

See all articles by Martin F. Hellwig

Martin F. Hellwig

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods; University of Bonn - Department of Economics; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Klaus M. Schmidt

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: July 16, 2001

Abstract

This paper studies the relation between discrete-time and continuous-time principal-agent models. We derive the continuous-time model as a limit of discrete-time models with ever shorter periods and show that optimal incentive schemes in the discrete-time models approximate the optimal incentive scheme in the continuous model, which is linear in accounts. Under the additional assumption that the principal observes only cumulative total profits at the end and the agent can destroy profits unnoticed, an incentive scheme that is linear in total profits is shown to be approximately optimal in the discrete-time model when the length of the period is small.

Keywords: Principal-agent problems, linear incentive schemes, intertemporal incentive provision, Brownian motion

JEL Classification: C61, D82, J33

Suggested Citation

Hellwig, Martin F. and Schmidt, Klaus M., Discrete-Time Approximations of the Holmstrom-Milgrom Brownian-Motion Model of Intertemporal Incentive Provision (July 16, 2001). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=279752 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.279752

Martin F. Hellwig

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )

Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
D-53113 Bonn, 53113
Germany

University of Bonn - Department of Economics

Adenauerallee 24-42
D-53113 Bonn
Germany

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

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

Klaus M. Schmidt (Contact Author)

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Economics ( email )

Ludwigstrasse 28
Munich, D-80539
Germany
+49 89 2180 3405 (Phone)
+49 89 2180 3510 (Fax)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.CESifo.de

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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