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声誉、人力资本和企业理论:一个不完全契约理论分析

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声誉、人力资本和企业理论:一个不完全契约理论分析框架

2008年获得全国优秀博士论文

中英文摘要
作者姓名:聂辉华
论文题目:声誉、人力资本和企业理论:一个不完全契约理论分析框架
作者简介:聂辉华,男,1978年10月出生,2003年9月师从于中国人民大学杨瑞龙教授,于2006年6月获博士学位。



本文主要讨论这样一个充满争议的问题:如果契约是不完全的,当事人的专用性人力资本投资水平是否有效率?经典的交易费用经济学或企业的不完全契约理论(如GHM模型)的回答是否定的,因此难以解释现实中为什么会存在大量的有效投资现象;本文的回答则是肯定的。如果把“契约不完全导致投资无效率”这一经典命题分解为“契约不完全导致敲竹杠”和“敲竹杠导致投资无效率”两部分,那么本文的基本观点是:契约不完全一定会导致敲竹杠,但是由于声誉的作用,在一定的条件下敲竹杠并不妨碍投资效率。背后的基本逻辑是:如果当事人类型是不确定的,只要未来的收益足够大,或者合作破裂的损失足够大,那么当事人为了向市场显示有利的信号,有可能在博弈过程中做出社会最优的有效投资。
假设甲乙双方签订一个不完全契约,甲方在规定日期向乙方提供货物。签约后,甲方单方面需要为货物的生产投入专用性人力资本,因此他面临乙方的敲竹杠风险,即甲方的专用性人力资本投资所带来的收益有一部分会被乙方分享。这一关系持续两期。甲方的实际能力是私人信息,他可能是高能者,也可能是低能者。为了甄别甲方的实际能力或类型,乙方根据如下规则判断:在第一期,乙方根据平均概率来推断甲方的生产能力,这一推断影响了甲方的谈判力,并顺次影响了其分享合作剩余的份额。在第二期,如果甲方在第一期做出了社会最优的专用性人力资本投资,那么乙方就会提高对甲方生产能力的判断概率,即认为甲方属于高能者的概率更高了,这一推断提高了甲方在第二期的谈判力以及相应的剩余份额;反之,如果甲方在第一期做出了个人最优的投资,那么乙方就认定甲方是低能者,从而不再跟甲方合作,甲方以某一概率面临失业。由于第二期是博弈的终点,不同类型的甲方都只会做出个人最优的投资。
本文的基本命题是,尽管不同类型的甲方在第一期做出社会最优的投资不是个人最优的,但是只要第二期的收益足够大,或者合作破裂的损失足够大,甲方就有可能在第一期做出社会最优的投资——尽管面临乙方的敲竹杠,而在第二期做出个人最优的投资。甲方的做法在满足激励相容约束条件的同时,对乙方也是有利的。如果不论作为高能者还是低能者的代理人都做出社会最优的投资,那么在这样一个混同均衡中声誉发挥了中性的作用;如果只有高能者能够承受做出社会最优投资的代价从而留在市场上,那么在这样一个分离均衡中声誉发挥了好的效应;如果无论高能者还是低能者都不能够承受做出社会最优投资的代价从而退出市场,那么在这样一种均衡中声誉发挥了坏的效应。我们还解释了人力资本过度投资的原因。在进一步比较所有产权结构之后,我们发现在静态环境下最佳的产权结构在动态环境下也是最佳的;声誉与产权是两种相互补充的激励工具。本文的主要结论与现有文献明显不同。
在证明契约不完全未必投资无效率这一主要观点之后,本文讨论了权力的来源与表现形式、企业的本质和边界、谈判力和有限理性等扩展性问题。首先,我认为权力的来源包括物质资本、人力资本、通道和声誉等多种形式,但是权力的表现形式主要是物质资本。接着,我认为企业的本质是“一种人力资本使用权交易的不完全契约”。这一定义与本文的主要模型和基本观点是一致的,与现有的企业理论也是兼容的,并且符合真实世界的情况。我还通过联盟博弈模型证明,没有做出专用性投资的代理人最终将不属于企业。如果组织中有些成员不进行专用性投资也能通过“搭便车”(freeride)获得声誉,那么这种组织将是不稳定的。此外,我采取一般化的纳什谈判解,发现对称的纳什谈判解假设并不改变本文的基本结论。最后,我考虑了有限理性假设对本文基本结论的影响。有趣的是,在有些情况下,代理人如果过于看重当前效用,那么激励相容约束条件就难以满足,代理人就不会注重声誉。在另一些情况下,代理人如果过于看重未来效用,那么激励相容约束条件就更容易满足,这意味着代理人更可能注重声誉。
接着,本文将主要观点应用于解释政治契约中的承诺问题。我首先详细地比较了经济契约与政治契约的差异及其辩护。我先后分析了政治集团内部的政治承诺以及政府与居民之间的政治承诺问题。我发现,如果考虑到排斥权和声誉效应,那么政治承诺在一定条件下是可置信的,政治科斯定理是成立的。排斥权的重要经济含义在于,它把投资效率与身份歧视相联系。政府通过对身份进行管制,可以将那些没有做出足够投资水平的居民排斥在公共产品之外,使投资不足的居民失去更多的机会收益。只要排斥权强大到足以使居民在做出个人最优投资时的收益少于做出社会最优投资时的收益,那么居民就会做出社会最优的投资。
最后,本文讨论了不完全契约的基础问题。我首先概述了经济学界近年来关于不完全契约基础的著名争论,并对正反双方的观点加以评析。我认为现有的不完全契约的理论基础难以满足一般性、易处理和真实性这三个标准。从转型经济和发展中国家的实际出发,我提出了“司法低效率作为不完全契约的基础”这一新的假说。支持这一假说的逻辑是:司法低效率——>诉讼低激励——>契约不完全。
与现有文献相比,本文的贡献主要表现在以下几个方面。
在观点上:
(1)本文在一个动态不完全信息的环境下证明了,契约不完全时也可能会出现有效率的专用性人力资本投资。这一观点与主流的观点是相反的,但是却有力地解释了现实生活中大量的有效投资和过度投资现象。本文还提出了“声誉也是权力的来源”这一新的重要观点。
(2)本文试图从司法低效率的角度提供一个不完全契约理论的基础。这一假说不必依赖于“复杂性”的极端假设,也避免了构建有限理性模型的重重困难,并且非常切合于欠发达国家或转型国家的现实情况。
在方法上:
(1)本文在不完全契约环境下引入信息不对称假设来分析敲竹杠问题,这是对现有的不完全契约理论分析框架的一个突破。现有的不完全契约文献通常假定当事人之间是信息对称的,从而忽略了很多不对称信息所具有的经济含义,而且也不真实;或者即便在不完全契约中引入了不对称信息,也没有讨论敲竹杠问题。
(2)本文从动态联盟博弈的角度讨论分析企业的边界,初步模型化了专用性投资与企业边界的关系,为理解专用性投资与声誉的关系提供了一个新的视角。

关键词: 声誉;人力资本;企业理论;契约



Reputation, Human Capital, and the Theory of the Firm:
A Framework of Incomplete Contract Theory
Nie Huihua
ABSTRACT

In this dissertation, I explore the question ofwhether specific investment in human capital can attain the firstbest when the contract is incomplete. The answer implied byclassical literature (GHM model, for instance) is negative, whichfails to explain many successful examples of efficient humancapital investment in reality, whereas I propose a positive answerto the question. The classical proposition that contractualincompleteness leads to investment inefficiency can be decomposedinto two parts: Contractual incompleteness brings on holdup, andthereby holdup results in investment inefficiency. However, I arguethat although contractual incompleteness will definitely cause theholdup problem, holdup may not necessarily impede efficientinvestment under some conditions. The underlying logic is that theinvolved parties may make first-best investment in order to sendgood signals if their types are unknown to the market, providedthat the future gain is sufficiently high or the loss fromcooperation breakdown is sufficiently large.
I assume there are two parties, S and B,negotiating over an incomplete contract in which S must supply awidget to B before due date. After contracting, S makes ex anterelationship-specific investment in human capital, and is thereforefaced with holdup risk because of the presence of B, that is, someof the resulting benefit from S’s specific investment will beexpropriated by B. The cooperative relationship lasts for twoperiods. S may have either high or low ability, which is S’sprivate information. B makes her judgment on S’s actual typeaccording to the following rule: In the first period, B forms herbelief about S’s productive ability based on average probability,which in turn affects S’s bargaining power and share ofcooperative surplus. In the second period, if S makes thefirst-best investment in the first period, B will update her beliefin the way that S is more likely to have high productive ability,which raises S’s bargaining power and share, accordingly.Contrarily, if S makes second-best or optimal investment in thefirst period, B will terminate the relationship with S, as B thinksS is of low ability. Then S will get unemployed with someprobability. Since the contract goes to an end after the secondperiod, both types of S will make second-best investment in thatperiod.
The main finding is that although it is notindividually best for both types of S to make socially bestinvestment in the first period, S will do so if the gain issufficiently high or the loss from cooperation breakdown issufficiently large in the second period. The action of S satisfiesher incentive compatibility constraint, and benefits B as well. Ifboth types of S make first-best investment in that period,reputation effect is neutral in the pooling equilibrium; if only Swith high ability can afford the cost of first-best investment andremain in the market in that period, reputation effect is positivein the separating equilibrium; if both types of S cannot bear thecost of first-best investment and exit the market in that period,reputation effect is negative in the equilibrium. Also, I explainwhy agents overinvest in specific human capital. Comparing allkinds of ownership structures, I find out that the ownership whichis optimal in the static setting is also optimal in the dynamicsetting, which means that property rights and reputation arecomplementary incentive tools. Our main conclusions above aredifferent from existing literatures.
Having constructed a formal proof of the centralproposition that contractual incompleteness does not always lead toinvestment inefficiency, I extend the discussion to the sources andforms of power, the nature and boundary of the firm, bargainingpower, bounded rationality, and etc. Subsequently, I apply allthese ideas to analyze the commitment problem in politicalcontracts. A major implication is that political commitment iscredible under certain conditions and the political Coase Theoremwill hold if exclusive power and reputation effect are taken intoaccount. Lastly, I also investigate the foundation of incompletecontracts, and provide an alternative justification concerningjudicial inefficiency.
Comparing to existing literature, the maincontributions of this dissertation can be summarized in thefollowing aspects. Theoretically, (i) It brings forward a new andimportant argument that reputation is also the source of power. Tobe concrete, it proves that efficient specific investment in humancapital exists under the dynamic setting characterized bycontractual incompleteness and information asymmetry. This point isin contrast with the mainstream literature, but gives a powerfulexplanation to much real-world evidence. (ii) It suggests viewingjudicial inefficiency as a foundation of incomplete contracts. Thisjustification does not depend on the extreme assumption ofcomplexity, and hence avoids the difficulties in modeling boundedrationality. Furthermore, it coincides with the practice happenedin less-developed countries or transitional countries.Methodologically, (i) It addresses the holdup problem underincomplete contracts with asymmetric information, and thus can beviewed as a breakthrough to the existing frameworks which eitherassume information symmetry among different parties, or neglect theholdup problem with asymmetric information. (ii) It examines theboundary of the firm from the perspective of dynamic coalitionalgames, and for the first time explicitly models the relationshipbetween specific investment and the boundary of the firm, whichsheds new lights on the understanding of specific investment andindividual or collective reputation.

Key words: Reputation, Human Capital, Theory of the Firm,Contract






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