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The Digitization of Word of Mouth: Promise and Challenges of Online Feedback Mechanisms

  • Chrysanthos Dellarocas

    ()

    (Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139)

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    Online feedback mechanisms harness the bidirectional communication capabilities of the Internet to engineer large-scale, word-of-mouth networks. Best known so far as a technology for building trust and fostering cooperation in online marketplaces, such as eBay, these mechanisms are poised to have a much wider impact on organizations. Their growing popularity has potentially important implications for a wide range of management activities such as brand building, customer acquisition and retention, product development, and quality assurance. This paper surveys our progress in understanding the new possibilities and challenges that these mechanisms represent. It discusses some important dimensions in which Internet-based feedback mechanisms differ from traditional word-of-mouth networks and surveys the most important issues related to their design, evaluation, and use. It provides an overview of relevant work in game theory and economics on the topic of reputation. It discusses how this body of work is being extended and combined with insights from computer science, management science, sociology, and psychology to take into consideration the special properties of online environments. Finally, it identifies opportunities that this new area presents for operations research/management science (OR/MS) research.

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.49.10.1407.17308
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    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

    Volume (Year): 49 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 10 (October)
    Pages: 1407-1424

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:49:y:2003:i:10:p:1407-1424
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    1. Larry Samuelson, 2003. "Imperfect Monitoring and Impermanent Reputations," Theory workshop papers 505798000000000030, UCLA Department of Economics.
    2. Mailath,G.J. & Samuelson,L., 1998. "Who wants a good reputation?," Working papers 19, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
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    5. Bengt Holmström, 1999. "Managerial Incentive Problems: A Dynamic Perspective," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 169-182.
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    7. Paul R. Milgrom & Douglass C. North & Barry R. Weingast, 1990. "The Role Of Institutions In The Revival Of Trade: The Law Merchant, Private Judges, And The Champagne Fairs," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(1), pages 1-23, 03.
    8. Cripps,M.W. & Mailath,G.J. & Samuelson,L., 2002. "Imperfect monitoring and impermanent reputations," Working papers 17, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
    9. David Kreps & Paul Milgrom & John Roberts & Bob Wilson, 2010. "Rational Cooperation in the Finitely Repeated Prisoners' Dilemma," Levine's Working Paper Archive 239, David K. Levine.
    10. Steven Tadelis, 1999. "What's in a Name? Reputation as a Tradeable Asset," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 548-563, June.
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    15. Paul Resnick & Christopher Avery & Richard Zeckhauser, 1999. "The Market for Evaluations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 564-584, June.
    16. David Kreps & Robert Wilson, 1999. "Reputation and Imperfect Information," Levine's Working Paper Archive 238, David K. Levine.
    17. Johannes Hörner, 2002. "Reputation and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(3), pages 644-663, June.
    18. Doug Bryan & David Lucking-Reiley & Naghi Prasad & Daniel Reeves, 2000. "Pennies from eBay: the Determinants of Price in Online Auctions," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1736, Econometric Society.
    19. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-48, June.
    20. Alvin E. Roth, 2002. "The Economist as Engineer: Game Theory, Experimentation, and Computation as Tools for Design Economics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(4), pages 1341-1378, July.
    21. Steven Tadelis, 2002. "The Market for Reputations as an Incentive Mechanism," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 854-882, August.
    22. Miller, Nolan & Resnick, Paul & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2002. "Eliciting Honest Feedback in Electronic Markets," Working Paper Series rwp02-039, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    23. Carl Shapiro, 1983. "Premiums for High Quality Products as Returns to Reputations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(4), pages 659-679.
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    25. Carl Shapiro, 1982. "Consumer Information, Product Quality, and Seller Reputation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(1), pages 20-35, Spring.
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