Full versus Partial Delegation in Multi-Task Agency
We consider a moral hazard type agency problem. Two tasks need to be performed within the agency. The principal can either delegate both tasks to the agent or perform one of the tasks himself. In the latter case the principal can choose which task to delegate but doing both personally is not feasible. As firm value is not contractible by assumption the incentive contract offered to the agent needs to be based on a possibly non-congruent performance measure. Allowing for both of the players to be risk averse, agency costs can arise from a trade-off in allocating incentives and risk as well as from a congruity problem. While full delegation results in a standard two task agency problem, partial delegation creates a double moral hazard problem as neither the principal can observe the agent’s effort nor vice versa. We find that full delegation is more favorable the more risk is optimally allocated to the agent. Accordingly partial delegation is beneficial if the principal has a relatively low degree of risk aversion. Moreover, full delegation allows the principal to scale incentives provided to the agent but not to fine tune the intensity of incentives for each effort separately. With partial delegation fine tuning is possible but increasing incentives for one effort implies reducing them for the other. If scaling is more effective in minimizing agency costs than fine tuning incentives, the principal tends to prefer full delegation to partial delegation and vice versa.
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