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Secrecy and Safety

  • Andrew F. Daughety
  • Jennifer F. Reinganum

We provide a model showing that the use of confidential settlement as a strategy for a firm facing tort litigation leads to lower average safety of products sold than would occur if the firm were committed to openness. A rational risk-neutral consumer's response in a market, wherein a firm engages in confidential settlements, may be to reduce demand. A firm committed to openness incurs higher liability and R&D costs, though product demand is not diminished. We identify conditions such that, if the cost of credible auditing (to verify openness) is low enough, a firm prefers to eschew confidentiality.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/0002828054825673
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 95 (2005)
Issue (Month): 4 (September)
Pages: 1074-1091

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:95:y:2005:i:4:p:1074-1091
Note: DOI: 10.1257/0002828054825673
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  1. Banks, Jeffrey S. & Sobel, Joel., 1985. "Equilibrium Selection in Signaling Games," Working Papers 565, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  2. Mark N. Hertzendorf & Per Baltzer Overgaard, 2001. "Price Competition and Advertising Signals: Signaling by Competing Senders," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(4), pages 621-662, December.
  3. Mark N. Hertzendorf, 1993. "I'm Not a High-Quality Firm -- But I Play One on TV," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(2), pages 236-247, Summer.
  4. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1986. "Price and Advertising Signals of Product Quality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 796-821, August.
  5. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2002. "Informational Externalities in Settlement Bargaining: Confidentiality and Correlated Culpability," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(4), pages 587-604, Winter.
  6. Bagwell, Kyle & Riordan, Michael H, 1991. "High and Declining Prices Signal Product Quality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 224-39, March.
  7. Kyle Bagwell, 1991. "Pricing to Signal Product Line Quality," Discussion Papers 921, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  8. Daughety, Andrew F & Reinganum, Jennifer F, 1995. "Product Safety: Liability, R&D, and Signaling," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1187-1206, December.
  9. Laurent Linnemer, 1998. "Entry Deterrence, Product Quality: Price and Advertising as Signals," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(4), pages 615-645, December.
  10. Cho, In-Koo & Kreps, David M, 1987. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(2), pages 179-221, May.
  11. Jennifer F. Reinganum & Louise L. Wilde, 1986. "Settlement, Litigation, and the Allocation of Litigation Costs," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(4), pages 557-566, Winter.
  12. Claude Fluet & Paolo G. Garella, 1999. "Advertising and Prices as Signals of Quality in a Regime of Price Rivalry," Cahiers de recherche du Département des sciences économiques, UQAM 9903, Université du Québec à Montréal, Département des sciences économiques.
  13. Yang, Bill Z., 1996. "Litigation, experimentation, and reputation," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 491-502, December.
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