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Referrals in Search Markets

Author

Listed:
  • Maria Arbatskaya

    (Emory University)

  • Hideo Konishi

    () (Boston College)

Abstract

This paper compares the equilibrium outcomes in search markets with and without referrals. Although it seems clear that consumers would benefit from referrals, it is not at all clear whether firms would unilaterally provide information about competing offers since such information could encourage consumers to purchase the product elsewhere. In a model of a horizontally differentiated product market with sequential consumer search, we show that valuable referrals can arise in the equilibrium: a firm will give referrals to consumers whose ideal product is suffciently far from the firms offering. We allow firms to price-discriminate among consumers, and consumers to misrepresent their tastes. It is found that the equilibrium profits tend to be higher in markets with referrals than in the ones without. Consumers tend to be better o¤ in the presence of referrals when search costs are not too low, and under a certain parameter range, referrals lead to a Pareto improvement.

Suggested Citation

  • Maria Arbatskaya & Hideo Konishi, 2005. "Referrals in Search Markets," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 614, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 10 May 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:614
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Stiglitz, J E, 1979. "Equilibrium in Product Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(2), pages 339-345, May.
    2. Stephen J. Spurr, 1990. "The Impact of Advertising and Other Factors on Referral Practices, with Special Reference to Lawyers," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(2), pages 235-246, Summer.
    3. Birger Wernerfelt, 1994. "Selling Formats for Search Goods," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 13(3), pages 298-309.
    4. Asher Wolinsky, 1983. "Retail Trade Concentration Due to Consumers' Imperfect Information," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(1), pages 275-282, Spring.
    5. Diamond, Peter A., 1971. "A model of price adjustment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 156-168, June.
    6. Konishi, Hideo, 2005. "Concentration of competing retail stores," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 488-512, November.
    7. Anderson, Simon P & Renault, Regis, 2000. "Consumer Information and Firm Pricing: Negative Externalities from Improved Information," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 41(3), pages 721-742, August.
    8. Asher Wolinsky, 1984. "Product Differentiation with Imperfect Information," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(1), pages 53-61.
    9. Colwell, Peter F & Kahn, Charles M, 2001. "The Economic Functions of Referrals and Referral Fees," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 267-296, November.
    10. Asher Wolinsky, 1986. "True Monopolistic Competition as a Result of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(3), pages 493-511.
    11. Mark V. Pauly, 1979. "The Ethics and Economics of Kickbacks and Fee Splitting," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 344-352, Spring.
    12. Janssen, Maarten C.W. & Moraga-Gonzalez, Jose Luis & Wildenbeest, Matthijs R., 2005. "Truly costly sequential search and oligopolistic pricing," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 23(5-6), pages 451-466, June.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Simona Grassi & Ching-to Albert Ma, 2016. "Information acquisition, referral, and organization," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 47(4), pages 935-960, November.
    2. Daniele Condorelli & Andrea Galeotti & Vasiliki Skreta, 2013. "Selling Through Referrals," Working Papers 13-06, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
    3. Ding, Ke & Gokan, Toshitaka & Zhu, Xiwei, 2013. "Search, matching, and self-organization of a marketplace," IDE Discussion Papers 396, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).
    4. Larry G. Epstein & Hiroaki Kaido & Kyoungwon Seo, 2016. "Robust Confidence Regions for Incomplete Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 84, pages 1799-1838, September.
    5. repec:kap:qmktec:v:16:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s11129-017-9196-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:eee:jetheo:v:175:y:2018:i:c:p:415-446 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Ke Ding & Toshitaka Gokan & Xiwei Zhu, 2017. "Small business and the self-organization of a marketplace," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 58(1), pages 1-19, January.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    horizontal referrals; consumer search; information; matching; broker commission.;

    JEL classification:

    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • D4 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance

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