City Research Online

Supervisory Efficiency and Collusion in a Multiple-Agent Hierarchy

Che, X., Huang, Y. & Zhang, L. (2020). Supervisory Efficiency and Collusion in a Multiple-Agent Hierarchy (20/01). London, UK: City, University of London.


We analyze a principal-supervisor-two-agent hierarchy with inefficient supervision. The su-pervisor may collects a wrong signal on each agent’s unobservable effort level. When reportingto the principal, the supervisor can collude with one or both agents to manipulate the signalin exchange for a bribe. In contract design, we identify a new trade-off between the loss fromsupervisor-agent collusion and the risk from inefficient supervision: Although allowing collu-sion makes shirking more attractive to the agents, it brings in a benefit because it can “correct”an incorrect negative signal when the agent has exerted effort. Such collusive supervision savesrisk premiums that the principal has to pay for incentive provision. We characterize the princi-pal’s optimal contract choice among no-supervision, collusion-proof, and collusive-supervisioncontracts. We show that the collusive-supervision contract dominates when the supervisory ef-ficiency is at an intermediate level.

Publication Type: Monograph (Discussion Paper)
Additional Information: © The Authors
Publisher Keywords: Optimal contract, hierarchy, collusion, supervisory efficiency, multiple agents
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Economics
School of Policy & Global Affairs > Economics > Discussion Paper Series
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