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"Who Wants a Good Reputation?''

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  • George J. Mailath
  • Larry Samuelson

Abstract

We examine a market in which long-lived firms face a short-term incentive to exert low effort, but could earn higher profits if it were possible to commit to high effort. There are two types of firms, "inept" firms who can only exert low effort, and "competent" firms who have a choice between high and low effort. There is occasional exit, and competent and inept potential entrants compete for the right to inherit the departing firm's reputation. Consumers receive noisy signals of effort choice, and so competent firms choose high effort in an attempt to distinguish themselves from inept firms. A competent firm is most likely to enter the market by purchasing an average reputation, in the hopes of building it into a good reputation, than either a very low reputation or a very high reputation. Inept firms, in contrast, find it more profitable to either buy high reputations and deplete them or buy low reputations. Copyright 2001 by The Review of Economic Studies Limited

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Paper provided by University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences in its series CARESS Working Papres with number 98-12.

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Handle: RePEc:wop:pennca:98-12

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  1. Fudenberg, D. & Levine, D.K. & Maskin, E., 1989. "The Folk Theorem With Inperfect Public Information," Working papers 523, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Steven Tadelis, 1999. "What's in a Name? Reputation as a Tradeable Asset," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 548-563, June.
  3. George J. Mailath & Larry Samuelson, 1998. "Your Reputation Is Who You're Not, Not Who You'd Like To Be," CARESS Working Papres rep-is-sep, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  4. Douglas Gale & Robert W. Rosenthal, 1992. "Price and Quality Cycles for Experience Goods," Papers 0035, Boston University - Industry Studies Programme.
  5. Aoyagi, Masaki, 1996. "Reputation and Entry Deterrence under Short-Run Ownership of a Firm," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 411-430, May.
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