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Chapter 10 Delegation in an R&D Game with Spillovers

The Economics of Innovation

ISBN: 978-0-444-53255-8, eISBN: 978-1-84950-537-6

Publication date: 26 July 2008


This paper considers a strategic delegation setting with R&D spillovers in a Cournot market. The game we analyze has four stages. First, owners have the option to hire a manager. If they decide to delegate, then in the contracting stage they have to determine the optimal incentives for the managers. In the R&D stage, the levels of investments in research and development are chosen which reduce production costs. Finally, in the production stage quantities offered on the market are selected. We characterize the sub-game perfect outcomes of this game depending on the level of R&D spillovers and derive the following main insights. First, in a case where no spillovers exist, both owners have the incentive to delegate R&D and production decisions to managers. This leads to higher outputs, higher R&D activities, but lower profits for the firms in comparison with an entrepreneurial (owner-managed) firm. These results still hold if the basic production unit costs are high, independent of the existence of spillovers. In these cases delegation leads to an increase in social welfare. Second, we demonstrate that when spillovers exist and basic unit production costs are low, then there are situations where owners delegate but discourage managers from being aggressive. This “soft” commitment leads to lower outputs, lower R&D, but higher profits for the firms in comparison with an entrepreneurial firm. Here, however, delegation results in lower welfare.


Kopel, M. and Riegler, C. (2008), "Chapter 10 Delegation in an R&D Game with Spillovers", Cellini, R. and Lambertini, L. (Ed.) The Economics of Innovation (Contributions to Economic Analysis, Vol. 286), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 177-213.



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