Publication - Leveled Commitment Contracts and Strategic Breach

Authors: Sandholm, Tuomas; Lesser, Victor
Title: Leveled Commitment Contracts and Strategic Breach
Abstract: . In automated negotiation systems for self-interested agents, contracts have traditionally been binding. They do not accommodate future events. Contingency contracts address this, but are often impractical. As an alternative, we propose leveled commitment contracts. The level of commitment is set by breach penalties. To be freed from the contract, an agent simply pays the penalty to the other party. A self-interested agent will be reluctant to breach because the other party might breach, in which case the former agent is freed from the contract, does not incur a penalty, and collects a penalty from the breacher. We show that, despite such strategic breach, leveled commitment increases the expected payoff to both contract parties and can enable deals that are impossible under full commitment. Asymmetric beliefs are also discussed. Different decommitting mechanisms are introduced and compared. Practical prescriptions for market designers are provided. A contract optimizer is provided on the web. Journal of Economic Literature Classification Numbers: C72, C78, D82, D83, K12, L14. 2001 Academic Press Key Words: contract; breach; search; market design; automated negotiation; bargaining; economics of uncertainty; multiagent systems; artificial intelligence.
Keywords: Automated Contracting, Multi-Agent Systems, Negotiation, Self-Interested Negotiation
Publication: Games and Economic Behavior, Vol: 35, pp. 212 - 270
Publisher: Academic Press
Date: January 2001
Sources: PDF: /Documents/Sandholm/leveled.geb.pdf
Reference: Sandholm, Tuomas; Lesser, Victor. Leveled Commitment Contracts and Strategic Breach. Games and Economic Behavior, Volume 35, Academic Press, pp. 212-270. January 2001.
  author    = "Tuomas Sandholm and Victor Lesser",
  title     = "{Leveled Commitment Contracts and Strategic Breach}",
  journal   = "Games and Economic Behavior",
  volume    = "35",
  publisher = "Academic Press",
  pages     = "212-270",
  month     = "January",
  year      = "2001",
  url       = "",