Rigidity of Public Contracts
44 Pages Posted: 26 May 2015 Last revised: 23 May 2021
Date Written: May 2015
We apply algorithmic data reading and textual analysis to compare the features of contracts in regulated industries subject to public scrutiny (which we call "public contracts") with relational private contracts. We show that public contracts are lengthier and have more rule-based rigid clauses; in addition, their renegotiation is formalized in amendments. We also find that contract length and the frequency of rigidity clauses increases in political contestability and closer to upcoming elections. We maintain that the higher rigidity of public contracts is a political risk adaptation strategy carried out by public agents attempting to lower third-party opportunistic challenges.
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