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Reputational Incentives for Restaurant Hygiene

  • Ginger Zhe Jin
  • Phillip Leslie

How can consumers be assured that firms will endeavor to provide good quality when quality is unobservable prior to purchase? We test the hypothesis that reputational incentives are effective at causing restaurants to maintain good hygiene quality. We find that chain affiliation provides reputational incentives and franchised units tend to free-ride on chain reputation. We also show that regional variation in the degree of repeat customers affects the strength of reputational incentives for good hygiene at both chain and nonchain restaurants. Despite these incentives, a policy intervention in the form of posted hygiene grade cards causes significant improvements in restaurant hygiene. (JEL I18, I19, L14, L83).

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/mic.1.1.237
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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aej/mic/data/2007-0014_data.zip
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Microeconomics.

Volume (Year): 1 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 237-67

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:1:y:2009:i:1:p:237-67
Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.1.1.237
Contact details of provider: Web page: https://www.aeaweb.org/aej-micro
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  1. John A. List, 2005. "The Behavioralist Meets the Market: Measuring Social Preferences and Reputation Effects in Actual Transactions," NBER Working Papers 11616, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lafontaine, Francine, 1999. "Franchising versus corporate ownership: The effect on price dispersion," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 17-34, January.
  3. Gorton, Gary, 1996. "Reputation Formation in Early Bank Note Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(2), pages 346-97, April.
  4. Steve Tadelis, 1997. "What's in a Name? Reputation as a Tradeable Asset," Working Papers 97033, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  5. George J. Mailath & Larry Samuelson, 2000. "Who Wants a Good Reputation?," CARESS Working Papres sell-rep, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  6. Andrea Shepard, 1993. "Contractual Form, Retail Price, and Asset Characteristics in Gasoline Retailing," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(1), pages 58-77, Spring.
  7. Ginger Zhe Jin & Andrew Kato, 2006. "Price, quality, and reputation: evidence from an online field experiment," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(4), pages 983-1005, December.
  8. Shapiro, Carl, 1983. "Premiums for High Quality Products as Returns to Reputations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(4), pages 659-79, November.
  9. 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.
  10. Brickley, James A. & Dark, Frederick H., 1987. "The choice of organizational form The case of franchising," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 401-420, June.
  11. Francine Lafontaine & Kathryn L. Shaw, 1996. "The Dynamics of Franchise Contracting: Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 5585, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Mailath, George J & Samuelson, Larry, 2001. "Who Wants a Good Reputation? Erratum," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(3), pages 714, July.
  13. Francine Lafontaine, 1992. "Agency Theory and Franchising: Some Empirical Results," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(2), pages 263-283, Summer.
  14. Hubbard, Thomas N, 2002. "How Do Consumers Motivate Experts? Reputational Incentives in an Auto Repair Market," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(2), pages 437-68, October.
  15. Norton, Seth W, 1988. "An Empirical Look at Franchising as an Organizational Form," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(2), pages 197-218, April.
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