The principal–agent problem refers to the conflict in interests and priorities that arises when one person or entity (the “agent”) takes actions on behalf of another person or entity (the “principal”). The problem worsens when there is a greater discrepancy of interests and information between the principal and agent, as well as when the principal lacks the means to punish the agent. The deviation from the principal’s interest by the agent is called “agency costs” [Agency costs].

Common examples of this relationship include corporate management (agent) and shareholders (principal), elected officials (agent) and citizens (principal), or brokers (agent) and markets (buyers and sellers, principals). In all these cases, the principal has to be concerned with whether the agent is acting in the best interest of the principal. The concepts of moral hazard and conflict of interest relate to the principal-agent problem.

(“Principalagent Problem” 2023)