Nahum Melumad

Communication in Settings with No Transfers

Coauthor(s): Toshi Shibano.


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Consider a setting commonly found in intrafirm, regulatory, and political relationships wherein an uniformed decision maker, attempting to elicit information from an informed party affected by his decision, is unable to use transfers. This article examines whether both parties will agree on the introduction of communication-based organizational structures; results in prior research suggest they will. In contrast we demonstrate that when there is enough disagreement between the two parties, introducing communication benefits the decision maker but leads to a loss for the informed party. This result holds both when the decision maker can commit to a decision rule (as in Holmstrom (1977)) and when he cannot (as in Crawford and Sobel (1982)). We also show that in the commitment case, with enough disagreement, the optimal communication-based decision rule is discontinuous. Our results suggest a possible rationale for observed legal and regulatory limitations on the information decision makers can elicit from other parties, as well as for attempts by various parties to avoid preplay communication.

Source: RAND Journal of Economics
Exact Citation:
Melumad, Nahum, and Toshi Shibano. "Communication in Settings with No Transfers." RAND Journal of Economics 22, no. 2 (Summer 1991): 173-98.
Volume: 22
Number: 2
Pages: 173-98
Date: Summer 1991