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Who Wants a Good Reputation?

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  • George J. Mailath
  • Larry Samuelson

Abstract

We examine a market in which long-lived firms face a short-term incentive to exert low effort, but could earn higher profits if it were possible to commit to high effort. There are two types of firms, "inept" firms who can only exert low effort, and "competent" firms who have a choice between high and low effort. There is occasional exit, and competent and inept potential entrants compete for the right to inherit the departing firm's reputation. Consumers receive noisy signals of effort choice, and so competent firms choose high effort in an attempt to distinguish themselves from inept firms. A competent firm is most likely to enter the market by purchasing an average reputation, in the hopes of building it into a good reputation, than either a very low reputation or a very high reputation. Inept firms, in contrast, find it more profitable to either buy high reputations and deplete them or buy low reputations.

Suggested Citation

  • George J. Mailath & Larry Samuelson, 2001. "Who Wants a Good Reputation?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(2), pages 415-441.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:68:y:2001:i:2:p:415-441.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/1467-937X.00175
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. George J. Mailath & Larry Samuelson, "undated". "Your Reputation Is Who You're Not, Not Who You'd Like To Be," Penn CARESS Working Papers bb1b279d6539c9ed3b83a027c, Penn Economics Department.
    3. Drew Fudenberg & David Levine & Eric Maskin, 2008. "The Folk Theorem With Imperfect Public Information," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Drew Fudenberg & David K Levine (ed.),A Long-Run Collaboration On Long-Run Games, chapter 12, pages 231-273, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    4. Aoyagi, Masaki, 1996. "Reputation and Entry Deterrence under Short-Run Ownership of a Firm," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 411-430, May.
    5. Douglas Gale & Robert W. Rosenthal, 1994. "Price and Quality Cycles for Experience Goods," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(4), pages 590-607, Winter.
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