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Your Reputation Is Who You're Not, Not Who You'd Like To Be

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  • George J. Mailath
  • Larry Samuelson

Abstract

We construct a model in which a firm's reputation must be built gradually, is managed, and dissipates gradually unless appropriately maintained. Consumers purchase an experience good from a firm whose unobserved effort affects the probability distribution of consumer utilities. Consumers observe private, noisy signals (consumer utilities) of the behavior of the firm, yielding a game of imperfect private monitoring} The standard approach to reputations introduces some "good" or "Stackelberg" firms into the model, with consumers ignorant of the type of the firm they face and with ordinary firms acquiring their reputations by masquerading as Stackelberg firms. In contrast, the key ingredient of our reputation model is the continual possibility that the ordinary or "competent" firm might be replaced by a "bad" or "inept" firm who never chooses the Stackelberg action. Competent firms then acquire their reputations by convincing consumers that they are not inept. Building a reputation is an exercise in separating oneself from inept firms who one is not, rather than pooling with Stackelberg firms who one would like to be. We investigate how a firm manages such a reputation, showing, among other features, that a competent firm may not always choose the most efficient effort level to distinguish itself from an inept one.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Penn Economics Department in its series Penn CARESS Working Papers with number bb1b279d6539c9ed3b83a027ce53d445.

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Handle: RePEc:cla:penntw:bb1b279d6539c9ed3b83a027ce53d445

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  1. Fudenberg, Drew & Kreps, David M & Maskin, Eric S, 1990. "Repeated Games with Long-run and Short-run Players," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(4), pages 555-73, October.
  2. Watson, Joel, 1999. "Starting Small and Renegotiation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 52-90, March.
  3. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine & Eric Maskin, 1994. "The Folk Theorem with Imperfect Public Information," Levine's Working Paper Archive 394, David K. Levine.
  4. Douglas Gale & Robert W. Rosenthal, 1992. "Price and Quality Cycles for Experience Goods," Papers 0035, Boston University - Industry Studies Programme.
  5. Douglas W. Diamond, 1998. "Reputation Acquisition in Debt Markets," Levine's Working Paper Archive 602, David K. Levine.
  6. Mailath, G.J. & Morris, S., 1998. "Repeated Games With Imperfect Private Monitoring: Notes on a Coordination Perspective," Papers 349, Australian National University - Department of Economics.
  7. Paul Milgrom & John Roberts, 1997. "Predation, reputation , and entry deterrence," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1460, David K. Levine.
  8. Mailath, George J & Samuelson, Larry, 2001. "Who Wants a Good Reputation?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(2), pages 415-41, April.
  9. Bhaskar, V. & van Damme, Eric, 2002. "Moral Hazard and Private Monitoring," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 102(1), pages 16-39, January.
  10. Klein, Benjamin & Leffler, Keith B, 1981. "The Role of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 615-41, August.
  11. David Kreps & Paul Milgrom & John Roberts & Bob Wilson, 2010. "Rational Cooperation in the Finitely Repeated Prisoners' Dilemma," Levine's Working Paper Archive 239, David K. Levine.
  12. Wolfgang HÄRDLE & J. MARRON & L. YANG, 1996. "Discussion," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 1996,65, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
  13. Al-Najjar, Nabil Ibraheem, 1995. "Decomposition and Characterization of Risk with a Continuum of Random Variables," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(5), pages 1195-1224, September.
  14. David K. Levine & Cesar Martinelli, 1997. "Reputation with Noisy Precommitment," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1987, David K. Levine.
  15. repec:wop:humbsf:1996-65 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. David Kreps & Robert Wilson, 1999. "Reputation and Imperfect Information," Levine's Working Paper Archive 238, David K. Levine.
  17. Compte, Olivier, 2002. "On Failing to Cooperate When Monitoring Is Private," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 102(1), pages 151-188, January.
  18. Sekiguchi, Tadashi, 1997. "Efficiency in Repeated Prisoner's Dilemma with Private Monitoring," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 345-361, October.
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