Breakthroughs, deadlines, and self-reported progress: Contracting for multistage projects


Journal Article

We study the optimal incentive scheme for a multistage project in which the agent privately observes intermediate progress. The optimal contract involves a soft deadline wherein the principal guarantees funding up to a certain date-if the agent reports progress at that date, then the principal gives him a relatively short hard deadline to complete the project-if progress is not reported at that date, then a probationary phase begins in which the project is randomly terminated at a constant rate until progress is reported. We explore several variants of the model with implications for optimal project design. In particular, we show that the principal benefits by imposing a small cost on the agent for submitting a progress report or by making the first stage of the project somewhat "harder" than the second.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Green, B; Taylor, CR

Published Date

  • December 1, 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 106 / 12

Start / End Page

  • 3660 - 3699

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0002-8282

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1257/aer.20151181

Citation Source

  • Scopus