Contracts constitute an important control mechanism. Their design is influenced by the preferences of the contracting parties, in addition to firm-level economic transaction costs. This study conducts an experiment to explore the antecedents of preferences for a less complete contract in a trade setting. Results from an experiment indicate that the preference for a more complete versus a less complete contract depends on the perceived riskiness of the incomplete contract, which is influenced by the perceived bargaining power and fairness preferences (namely, distributive and procedural fairness preferences) of the contracting parties. In other words, we find evidence that suggests that choosing the completeness of a contract is a form of risk-taking, and that the preference for a more incomplete contract is influenced by perceived power and fairness preferences.

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