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Strategic Information Disclosure: The Case Of Multiattribute Products With Heterogeneous Consumers

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  • V. JOSEPH HOTZ
  • MO XIAO

Abstract

We examine the incentives for firms to voluntarily disclose otherwise private information about the quality attributes of their products. In particular, we focus on the case of differentiated products with multiple attributes and heterogeneous consumers. We show that there exist certain configurations of consumers’ multi-dimensional preferences under which a firm, no matter whether producing a high- or low-quality product, may choose not to reveal the quality even with zero disclosure costs. The failure of information unraveling arises when providing consumers with more information results in more elastic demand, which triggers more intensive price competition and leads to lower prices and profits for competing firms. As a result, the equilibrium in which disclosure is voluntary may diverge from that in which disclosure is mandatory.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1465-7295.2010.00340.x
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Western Economic Association International in its journal Economic Inquiry.

Volume (Year): 51 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 (01)
Pages: 865-881

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Handle: RePEc:bla:ecinqu:v:51:y:2013:i:1:p:865-881

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  1. Michael J. Fishman & Kathleen M. Hagerty, 2003. "Mandatory Versus Voluntary Disclosure in Markets with Informed and Uninformed Customers," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 45-63, April.
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  4. Joseph Farrell, 1985. "Voluntary Disclosure: Robustness of the Unraveling Result, and Comments on Its Importance," Working papers 374, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  5. Gal-Or, Esther, 1985. "Information Sharing in Oligopoly," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(2), pages 329-43, March.
  6. Peters, Michael, 1984. "Restrictions on Price Advertising," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 472-85, June.
  7. Ginger Zhe Jin & Phillip Leslie, 2003. "The Effect Of Information On Product Quality: Evidence From Restaurant Hygiene Grade Cards," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(2), pages 409-451, May.
  8. Grossman, Sanford J, 1981. "The Informational Role of Warranties and Private Disclosure about Product Quality," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 461-83, December.
  9. Rosen, Sherwin, 1974. "Hedonic Prices and Implicit Markets: Product Differentiation in Pure Competition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 34-55, Jan.-Feb..
  10. Neven, D., 1985. "On hotelling’s competition with non uniform customer distributions," CORE Discussion Papers 1985044, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  11. Dye, Ronald A, 1986. "Proprietary and Nonproprietary Disclosures," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(2), pages 331-66, April.
  12. Insuk Cheong & Jeong-Yoo Kim, 2004. "Costly Information Disclosure in Oligopoly," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(1), pages 121-132, 03.
  13. Mathios, Alan D, 2000. "The Impact of Mandatory Disclosure Laws on Product Choices: An Analysis of the Salad Dressing Market," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(2), pages 651-77, October.
  14. Neven, D. & Thisse, J-F., 1989. "On Quality And Variety Competition," CORE Discussion Papers 1989020, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  15. Okuno-Fujiwara, Masahiro & Postlewaite, Andrew & Suzumura, Kotaro, 1990. "Strategic Information Revelation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(1), pages 25-47, January.
  16. Stivers Andrew E, 2004. "Unraveling of Information: Competition and Uncertainty," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-18, December.
  17. Grossman, Gene M & Shapiro, Carl, 1984. "Informative Advertising with Differentiated Products," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(1), pages 63-81, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Seth Freedman & Melissa Kearney & Mara Lederman, 2012. "Product Recalls, Imperfect Information, and Spillover Effects: Lessons from the Consumer Response to the 2007 Toy Recalls," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(2), pages 499-516, May.
  2. Xiao, Mo, 2010. "Is quality accreditation effective? Evidence from the childcare market," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 708-721, November.
  3. Daniel Halbheer & Florian Stahl & Oded Koenigsberg & Donald R. Lehmann, 2013. "Digital Content Strategies," Working Papers 329, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).

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