European Journal of Law and Economics

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 455–476 | Cite as

To allot or not to allot public services? An incomplete contract approach

  • Julie de Brux
  • Claudine Desrieux


Using an incomplete contract framework, we analyze the consequences of allotment in public procurement. Allotment aims at dividing a public service into several lots that can be awarded to different operators. This increases the number of bidders during the competitive tendering, as well as it reduces the size of the service managed by each operator. We model the impacts of allotment both on price and quality of public services provided under public procurement. When the quality of services depends on non-contractible efforts made by the operators during the execution of the contract, our results show that (1) the operators have higher incentives to make non-contractible efforts when there is no allotment, and that (2) allotment does not maximize the joint payoffs of the public and private parties (i.e. the total surplus), but mainly benefits public authorities representing the users of the service.


Public procurement Allotment Incomplete contracts Public services 

JEL Classification

L33 L22 L24 L11 K12 



We wish to thank Patrick Schmitz and Eva Hoppe for helpful discusssions at an earlier stage of this work. We also thank Louis-Roch Burgard, Eshien Chong, Antonio Estache, Frédéric Marty, Paola Valbonesi, and seminar participants at the 2011 ISNIE Conference at Stanford University, and the 2011 JMA Conference in Sousse, Tunisia. We are solely responsible for any remaining errors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IAE, University of Paris IParisFrance
  2. 2.ERMES, University of Paris IIParisFrance

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