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Optimal Contracts with Reflection
In this paper, we show that whenever the agent's outside option is nonzero, the optimal contract in the continuous-time principal-agent model of Sannikov (2008) is reflective at the lower bound. This means the agent is never terminated or retired after poor performance. Instead, the agent is asked to put zero effort temporarily, which brings his continuation value up. The agent is then asked to resume effort, and the contract continues. We show that a nonzero agent's outside option arises endogenously if the agent is allowed to quit and find a new firm (after a random search time of finite ...