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Managing the execution of contracts. Julie de Brux IAE – University Paris I Panthéon – Sorbonne Permanent member of the Chair on the Economics of Public-Private Partnerships CICA – IFI 2010 Conference Efficient construction and sustainable development

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Managing the execution of contracts

Managing the execution of contracts

Julie de Brux

IAE – University Paris I Panthéon – Sorbonne

Permanent member of the Chair on the Economics of Public-Private Partnerships

CICA – IFI 2010 Conference

Efficient construction and sustainable development

World Bank, Washington D.C.

February 11th, 2010

1 motivation
1/ Motivation

Previous presentations examined PPP challenges arising BEFORE the signature of contracts:

  • Which projects shall be undertaken?

  • Should the realisation of the project be done in-house or should it be outsourced?

  • If outsourcing is the relevant choice, how should the contract be awarded?

  • Which funding should be adopted?

  • Which guarantees should be given to the operator?

  • Which price regulation mechanism should be attributed to the operator?

1 motivation1
1/ Motivation

What happens AFTER the signature of contracts is also very important

All the more important than many potential opportunistic behaviours may arise

  • From:

    • The public authority

    • The private operator

  • Because contracts are:

    • Long

    • Complex

    • They imply specific assets

  • In order to:

    • Win an election

    • Capture additional rents

    • Etc.

1 motivation2
1/ Motivation

Renegotiations appear as a symbol of the difficulties arising during the execution of contracts…

…with different theoretical approaches

  • Bajari, Tadelis, 2001:

    • Trade-off between ex ante incentives and cost

      of renegotiation

  • Guasch, Laffont, Straub, 2006:

    • Renegotiations to compensate the operator’s ex post

      losses… as a sign of institutional weakness

  • Engel, Fisher, Galetovic, 2007:

    • Public authorities renegotiate during electoral periods

      to relax the fiscal constraint

  • de Brux, 2009:

    • Case studies showing that cooperative renegotiations exist and can make 3 winners: Public Authority, Private Operator and Users


Cost over-runs/ opportunism/ principal source of PPP failure

1 motivation3
1/ Motivation:

  • Research question:

    Under which conditions will parties cooperate during the execution of contracts, whereas, at first sight, they have different utility functions?

  • Method:

    • A theoretical model based on Incomplete contract theory [Hart, Shleifer, Vishny, 1997] + repeated games [Baker, Gibbons, Murphy, 2004]

    • Beginning of empirical tests based on econometrics and descriptive statistics

2 the model
2/ The model:

Starting point: Hart, Shleifer, Vishny [1997]

  • Major source of disagreement between public authority (PA) and private operator (PO):

    • PA wants a high quality of service.

    • PO wants profits: he wants low costs of provision and he wants to charge high prices.

  • If PO finds a way to decrease costs of provision, he implements this innovation. And he does not care about the adverse effects on the quality of service.

  • PO has over-incentive to find a way to reduce costs.

  • Private provision of public services may become inefficient.

2 the model1
2/ The model:

DeBrux, Desrieux [2010]’s goal:

  • Showing that when parties care for future transactions and/or when they have several contracts together (multi-contracting), the previous conclusion is wrong:

    i.e. Private provision of public services remains efficient

  • Why? Because of a sort of « tacit dealing »: the private operator knows that if he has a cooperative behaviour (no over-investment in cost reduction with high adverse effect on quality), he has higher probabilities of renewal

  • If he does not respect the deal, the probabilities that he is renewed become lower

  • Application with the French intuitu personae principle: a certain degree of discretionary power

2 the model2
2/ The model:

Intuition of the model:




Penalty: lower

probabilities of renewal


2 the model3
2/ The model:


2 the model4
2/ The model

Second step:

  • Awarding several contracts to one operator is good for social surplus

  • However, if the operator has too many contracts:

    • There will be no incentives for other operators to answer the call for tenders

    • So, no possibility for the public authority to punish the incumbent operator if he does not cooperate (by replacing him by an other operator)

    • Thus, the incumbent operator may abuse of his dominant position: private monopoly: high prices, bad quality of service, etc.

  • Trade-off between:

    • Positive effect of multi-contracting

    • Negative effect of the lack of competition

3 empirical test
3/ Empirical test

Putting theory to test… reaching testable propositions

  • There is a certain number of contracts below which it is in the interest of the public authority to award several contracts to the same operator (multi-contract effect)

  • There is certain number of contracts above which it is not in the interest of the public authority to award several contracts to the same operator (competition effect)

3 empirical test1
3/ Empirical test

Why an application to the car park sector?

  • Contracts involving a private operator and a public authority (660 French contracts).

  • Possibility for an operator to have several car park contracts in a same city -multi-contractual framework-. (Up to 10 car park contracts at the same time)

  • Some contracts have been renewed from one to 5 times (repeated games).

  • Possible adverse effects on quality if high decrease of provision costs.

  • Competitive sector (on average, 5 bidders/call for tenders).

3 empirical test2
3/ Empirical test

Some variables and their expected signs

  • Explained variable

    • Awarding of a new contract and renewal of expired contracts

  • Explanatory variables

4 concluding remarks
4/ Concluding remarks

  • An original result…

    • Whereas the general trend is to go towards more atomic markets…

    • …we show that, up to a certain extent, it might be socially efficient to award several contracts to a same operator.

  • … requiring

    • Operators valorising future and sensitive to reputation

    • No private monopolies

    • Low corruption and democracy