Unobservable Contracts as Precommitments

Research paper by Levent Koçkesen

Indexed on: 22 Apr '06Published on: 22 Apr '06Published in: Economic Theory


It is well known that signing publicly observable contracts with third parties is a means of credibly committing to certain actions and hence may yield strategic advantages. Previous work on the commitment value of unobservable contracts has been limited to normal form games and extensive form games in which only one party has the option to sign a contract. In this paper, we extend the analysis to extensive form games in which both players can sign contracts, and characterize the set of sequential equilibria. We show that any Nash equilibrium outcome of the original game in which both players receive more than their individually rational payoffs can be supported as a sequential equilibrium outcome. Therefore, delegation acts not only as a commitment device to gain advantage over the opponent, but also as a cooperative device to attain Pareto improvements over the subgame perfect equilibrium outcome.