Variable Cost Allocation in a Principal/Agent Model, Accounting Review
A principal-agent relation is analyzed where the agent chooses an unobservable effort level and an observable level of utilization of a resource supplied by the principal. When the agent has private information about the usefulness of the principal's resource, it is shown that the optimal compensation function must include the resource level as an argument. That is, some form of "cost allocation" appears to be part of the optimal solution to the principal's problem. Further analysis shows that standard cost allocation techniques (where the agent is allocated more costs if he or she uses more of the resource) may not be efficient in motivating the agent's choices. In some circumstances, it may be optimal to pay the agent more if he or she used more of the principal's resource.
Magee, Robert. 1988. Variable Cost Allocation in a Principal/Agent Model. Accounting Review. 63(1)