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Experts and quacks

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  • Jeremy A. Sandford

Abstract

What happens when type is endogenous in a reputational setting? Here, customers cannot tell experts from imitative quacks, but gain information through repeated interaction. Firm incentives to invest in expertise vary nonmonotonically in how tolerant customers are of bad outcomes; more tolerant customers are both more forgiving, making expertise less necessary, and longer tenured, increasing the value of retaining them. In equilibrium, the proportion of expert firms is bounded away from one; some quacks are necessary to keep incentives of experts in line. The fraction of experts is decreasing in customers' switching costs and the relative cost of expertise over quackery. Copyright (c) 2010, RAND.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeremy A. Sandford, 2010. "Experts and quacks," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 41(1), pages 199-214.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:randje:v:41:y:2010:i:1:p:199-214
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Klein, Benjamin & Saft, Lester F, 1985. "The Law and Economics of Franchise Tying Contracts," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(2), pages 345-361, May.
    2. Rafael Rob & Tadashi Sekiguchi, 2006. "Reputation and turnover," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(2), pages 341-361, June.
    3. Taylor, Curtis R, 1995. "The Economics of Breakdowns, Checkups, and Cures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(1), pages 53-74, February.
    4. Jean Tirole, 1996. "A Theory of Collective Reputations (with applications to the persistence of corruption and to firm quality)," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(1), pages 1-22.
    5. George J. Mailath & Larry Samuelson, 2001. "Who Wants a Good Reputation?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(2), pages 415-441.
    6. Rubin, Paul H, 1978. "The Theory of the Firm and the Structure of the Franchise Contract," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 223-233, April.
    7. Asher Wolinsky, 1993. "Competition in a Market for Informed Experts' Services," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(3), pages 380-398, Autumn.
    8. Leland, Hayne E, 1979. "Quacks, Lemons, and Licensing: A Theory of Minimum Quality Standards," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1328-1346, December.
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