On the relation between asset ownership and specific investments

Published in: Economic Journal 111 (2001). 791-820. (with Joep Sonnemans and Randolph Sloof)

Experimental results are presented for a simplified version of Hart's (1995) theory of the firm. Theory predicts that investment levels remain constant when investors' no-trade pay-offs increase, if these pay-offs are threat points. While they may decrease when no-trade pay-offs are outside options. Our results support these predictions in a relative sense. Average investment levels exceed the predicted level. Actual investment behaviour is consistent with the outcomes of the bargaining stage. The play of the game is supported by a reciprocity mechanism in which non-investors consider higher investment levels as fair behaviour which deserves a reward. Investors anticipate this.

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