December, 2019

Trust, Regulation, and Contracting Institutions

  • Claudia Williamson

    Associate Professor of Economics, Mississippi State University
  • Brandon Cline

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This paper demonstrates that trust directly influences contracting efficiency. We document that trust reduces demand for contract regulation and positively relates to a high‐quality contracting environment, supporting a substitution hypothesis. Furthermore, contract regulation no longer leads to poor contracting outcomes. These findings suggest that lack of trust significantly explains inefficient contracting institutions. Based on interaction effects, we note that trust could complement formal enforcement in countries with weak regulation. As regulation increases, trust substitutes for contract regulation. Overall, trust positively promotes efficient contracting by reducing burdensome regulation and providing an alternative to formal contract enforcement.