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Strategic experimentation with private payoffs

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  • Heidhues, Paul
  • Rady, Sven
  • Strack, Philipp

Abstract

We consider a game of strategic experimentation in which players face identical discrete-time bandit problems with a safe and a risky arm. In any period, the risky arm yields either a success or a failure, and the first success reveals the risky arm to dominate the safe one. When payoffs are public information, the ensuing free-rider problem is so severe that equilibrium experimentation ceases at the same threshold belief at which a single agent would stop, even if players can coordinate their actions through mediated communication. When payoffs are private information and the success probability on the risky arm is not too high, however, the socially optimal symmetric experimentation profile can be supported as a sequential equilibrium for sufficiently optimistic prior beliefs, even if players can only communicate via binary cheap-talk messages.

Suggested Citation

  • Heidhues, Paul & Rady, Sven & Strack, Philipp, 2015. "Strategic experimentation with private payoffs," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 159(PA), pages 531-551.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:159:y:2015:i:pa:p:531-551
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jet.2015.07.017
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    Cited by:

    1. Kaustav Das & Nicolas Klein & Katharina Schmid, 2020. "Strategic experimentation with asymmetric players," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 69(4), pages 1147-1175, June.
    2. Ganglmair, Bernhard & Simcoe, Timothy & Tarantino, Emanuele, 2018. "Learning When to Quit: An Empirical Model of Experimentation," CEPR Discussion Papers 12733, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Song, Yangbo & Zhao, Mofei, 2021. "Dynamic R&D competition under uncertainty and strategic disclosure," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 181(C), pages 169-210.
    4. Keller, Godfrey & Novák, Vladimír & Willems, Tim, 2019. "A note on optimal experimentation under risk aversion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 476-487.
    5. Simina Br^anzei & Yuval Peres, 2019. "Multiplayer Bandit Learning, from Competition to Cooperation," Papers 1908.01135, arXiv.org, revised Oct 2019.
    6. Caroline D. Thomas, 2021. "Strategic Experimentation with Congestion," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 1-82, February.
    7. Johannes Horner & Nicolas Klein & Sven Rady, 2019. "Overcoming Free-Riding in Bandit Games," Papers 1910.08953, arXiv.org, revised Mar 2021.
    8. Kaustav Das, 2014. "Strategic Experimentation with Competition and Private Arrival of Information," Discussion Papers 1404, University of Exeter, Department of Economics.
    9. Dosis, Anastasios & Muthoo, Abhinay, 2019. "Experimentation in Dynamic R&D Competition," CRETA Online Discussion Paper Series 52, Centre for Research in Economic Theory and its Applications CRETA.
    10. Wuggenig, Mirjam, 2015. "Learning faster or more precisely? Strategic experimentation in networks," VfS Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113196, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    11. KLEIN, Nicolas & WAGNER, Peter, 2018. "Strategic investment and learning with private information," Cahiers de recherche 2018-10, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
    12. Gomes, Renato & Gottlieb, Daniel & Maestri, Lucas, 2016. "Experimentation and project selection: Screening and learning," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 145-169.
    13. Fudenberg, Drew & He, Kevin, 2021. "Player-compatible learning and player-compatible equilibrium," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 194(C).
    14. Svetlana Boyarchenko, 2020. "Super- and submodularity of stopping games with random observations," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 70(4), pages 983-1022, November.
    15. Sven Rady & Nicolas Klein & Johannes Horner, 2013. "Strongly Symmetric Equilibria in Bandit Games," 2013 Meeting Papers 1107, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    16. Marlats, Chantal & Ménager, Lucie, 2021. "Strategic observation with exponential bandits," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 193(C).
    17. Georgiadis, George, 2017. "Deadlines and infrequent monitoring in the dynamic provision of public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 1-12.
    18. Keller, Godfrey & Rady, Sven, 2015. "Breakdowns," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 10(1), January.
    19. Svetlana Boyarchenko, 0. "Super- and submodularity of stopping games with random observations," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 0, pages 1-40.
    20. Xie, Yinxi & Xie, Yang, 2017. "Machiavellian experimentation," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(4), pages 685-711.
    21. Farzad Pourbabaee, 2021. "Robust Experimentation in the Continuous Time Bandit Problem," Papers 2104.00102, arXiv.org.
    22. Thijssen, Jacco J.J. & Bregantini, Daniele, 2017. "Costly sequential experimentation and project valuation with an application to health technology assessment," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 202-229.
    23. Wuggenig, Mirjam, 2014. "Learning faster or more precisely? Strategic experimentation in networks," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 485, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Strategic experimentation; Two-armed bandit; Bayesian learning; Information externality; Mediated communication; Cheap talk;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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