Two-sided reputation in certification markets
AbstractWe consider a market where privately informed sellers resort to certification to overcome adverse selection. There is uncertainty about the certifier's ability to generate accurate information. The profit of a monopolistic certifier is an inverted U-shaped function of his reputation for accuracy: being perceived as more precise allows to attract more good sellers but a high expected precision also deters bad sellers. Since the certifier tries to reach a balanced reputation to attract both types, reputation has a disciplining effect when the certifier is perceived as insufficiently accurate, but gives incentives to decrease precision when he is perceived as â€œtoo" accurate. The impact of competition depends on whether sellers â€œmultihome" or â€œsinglehome". Under singlehoming, certifiers compete to attract good sellers, which makes higher reputation more valuable. Multihoming makes higher reputations less desirable because the competitor exerts a negative externality by providing extra information. Therefore, singlehoming attenuates bad reputation effects, while multihoming exacerbates inefficiencies.
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