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Search Costs and Risky Investment in Quality

  • Arthur Fishman

    ()

    (Bar-Ilan University)

  • Nadav Levy

    (IDC Herzliya)

One striking development associated with the explosion of e-commerce is the increased transparency of sellers' quality history. In this paper we analyze how this affects fi rms' incentives to invest in quality when the outcome of investment is uncertain. We identify two conflicting effects. On the one hand, reducing the consumer's cost of search for quality exacerbates the negative effects of past poor performance. This increases incentives to invest, leading to higher quality. On the other hand, the fact that a fi rm, despite its best efforts, may fail to live up to consumers' more demanding expectations, makes investment less attractive. This discourages investment, leading to lower quality. We show that reducing the search cost leads to higher quality if the initial level of the search cost is sufficiently high but may lead to lower quality if the initial level of the search cost is sufficiently low.

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File URL: http://www.biu.ac.il/soc/ec/wp/2011-04.pdf
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Paper provided by Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2011-04.

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Date of creation: Mar 2011
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Handle: RePEc:biu:wpaper:2011-04
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  1. Matthew Higgins & Daniel Levy & Andrew Young, 2005. "Growth and Convergence across the U.S: Evidence from County-Level Data," Macroeconomics 0509023, EconWPA.
  2. Ravi Kanbur & Hillel Rapoport, 2005. "Migration selectivity and the evolution of spatial inequality," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(1), pages 43-57, January.
  3. Avichai Snir & Daniel Levy, 2011. "Shrinking Goods and Sticky Prices: Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 2011-03, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
  4. Daniel Levy & Haipeng (Allan) Chen & Sourav Ray & Mark Bergen, 2004. "Asymmetric Price Adjustment in the Small: An Implication of Rational Inattention," Working Papers 2004-08, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
  5. Andrew T. Young & Matthew J. Higgins & Daniel Levy, 2003. "Sigma Convergence Versus Beta Convergence: Evidence from U.S. County-Level Data," Working Papers 2003-06, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
  6. Leonid V. Azarnert, 2008. "Involuntary Integration in Public Education, Fertility and Human Capital," Working Papers 2008-07, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
  7. Heski Bar-Isaac & Guillermo Caruana & Vicente Cuñat, 2009. "Search, Design and Market Structure," Working Papers 09-17, NET Institute, revised Sep 2009.
  8. Sourav Ray & Haipeng (Allan) Chen & Mark Bergen & Daniel Levy, 2005. "Asymmetric Wholesale Pricing: Theory and Evidence," Emory Economics 0513, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
  9. Bar-El, Ronen & García-Muñoz, Teresa & Neuman, Shoshana & Tobol, Yossi, 2010. "The Evolution of Secularization: Cultural Transmission, Religion and Fertility Theory, Simulations and Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 4980, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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