IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Quality, reputation and the choice of organizational form


  • Vlassopoulos, Michael


This paper revisits the hypothesis that nonprofit organizations emerge in markets that are characterized by contractual incompleteness because they ensure consumers against opportunistic behavior. We extend the Glaeser and Shleifer [Glaeser, E., Shleifer, A., 2001. Not-for-profit entrepreneurs. Journal of Public Economics 81, 99-115] framework, which studies an entrepreneur's optimal choice of organizational form and service quality when quality is non-contractible into a repeated interaction setting. The main result is that when reputations can be sustained, then for-profit status is the preferred organizational form and high quality services are ensured. This finding suggests that existing explanations of nonprofit organizations that focus entirely on contractual imperfections in the producer/consumer relationship may be inadequate.

Suggested Citation

  • Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2009. "Quality, reputation and the choice of organizational form," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 515-527, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:71:y:2009:i:2:p:515-527

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Glaeser, Edward L. & Shleifer, Andrei, 2001. "Not-for-profit entrepreneurs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 99-115, July.
    2. Oliver Hart & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1997. "The Proper Scope of Government: Theory and an Application to Prisons," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1127-1161.
    3. Nelson, Phillip, 1970. "Information and Consumer Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(2), pages 311-329, March-Apr.
    4. Carl Shapiro, 1986. "Investment, Moral Hazard, and Occupational Licensing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(5), pages 843-862.
    5. Klein, Benjamin & Leffler, Keith B, 1981. "The Role of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 615-641, August.
    6. Johannes Hörner, 2002. "Reputation and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(3), pages 644-663, June.
    7. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716, January.
    8. Susan Rose-Ackerman, 1996. "Altruism, Nonprofits, and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 701-728, June.
    9. repec:hrv:faseco:33078971 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. David Easley & Maureen O'Hara, 1983. "The Economic Role of the Nonprofit Firm," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(2), pages 531-538, Autumn.
    11. repec:hrv:faseco:30727607 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Benoit, Jean-Pierre & Krishna, Vijay, 1985. "Finitely Repeated Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(4), pages 905-922, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:jhecon:v:55:y:2017:i:c:p:108-120 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Ghatak, Maitreesh & Mueller, Hannes, 2011. "Thanks for nothing? Not-for-profits and motivated agents," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1-2), pages 94-105, February.
    3. Lapo Filistrucchi & Jens Prüfer, 2013. "Nonprofits are not alike: The Role of Catholic and Protestant Affiliation," Working Papers - Economics wp2013_07.rdf, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Scienze per l'Economia e l'Impresa.
    4. Jones, Daniel B. & Propper, Carol & Smith, Sarah, 2017. "Wolves in sheep’s clothing: Is non-profit status used to signal quality?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 108-120.

    More about this item


    Nonprofit status Reputation Contractual incompleteness;

    JEL classification:

    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • L30 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - General


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:71:y:2009:i:2:p:515-527. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.