Jan Knoepfle


Aalto University, School of Business


Research Interests: Microeconomic Theory, Information Economics, Mechanism Design, Dynamic Incentives

Curriculum Vitae


'Costless Information and Costly Verification: A Case for Transparency', with Deniz Kattwinkel

A principal has to take a binary decision. She relies on information privately held by a completely biased agent. The principal cannot incentivize with transfers but can learn the agent's information at a cost. Additionally, the principal privately observes a signal correlated with the agent's type. Transparent mechanisms are optimal: Unlike in standard results with correlation, the principal's payoff is the same as if her signal was public. A simple cutoff form is optimal: Favorable signals ensure the agent's preferred action. Signals below this cutoff lead to the non-preferred action unless the agent appeals. An appeal always triggers type verification.

'Dynamic Competition for Attention'

This paper studies information transmission in situations in which multiple senders compete for the attention of a decision maker. Senders are partially informed about a state and choose how to reveal information over time to attract maximal attention. A decision maker wants to learn about the state but faces attention costs. I characterise an equilibrium with simple strategies that lead to full information transmission in minimal time. The attention each sender receives is proportional to the residual value of her information. With endogenous information acquisition, increasing initial public information may decrease the aggregate information in society.

'Dynamic Incentives with Costly Inspections', with Peter A. Wagner

This paper studies incentive schemes in a dynamic principal-agent setting with costly monitoring in which the principal wants to induce full compliance at minimal cost. The principal provides incentives for effort and truth-telling by performing inspections and setting fines. We characterize both deterministic as well as random incentive schemes and show that, unlike in previous models on verification, full compliance is achievable in equilibrium even without commitment. The principal can attain the same as in the optimal deterministic mechanism. However, a non-committed principal cannot gain from randomization.

'Inspecting Experimentation'

A principal offers a dynamic contract for experimentation to an agent with limited liability. The agent's effort is hidden but the principal can schedule costly inspections which reveal the effort history. The optimal contract takes a simple structure: Only after the last inspection, effort is incentivised through bonus payments contingent on success. Inspections are scheduled with increasing distance such that, in earlier periods, incentives are provided solely by the threat of losing the continuation value from the final phase. I discuss an implementation through stage-financing, where funds are released after each inspection for the entire stage until the next inspection. Inspections make funding in multiple stages a necessary feature of the optimal contract.