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Firm Reputation and Horizontal Integration

  • Hongbin Cai
  • Ichiro Obara

We study effects of horizontal integration on firm reputation. In an environment where customers observe only imperfect signals about firms' effort/quality choices, firms cannot maintain reputations of high quality and earn quality premium forever. Even when firms are choosing high quality/effort, there is always a possibility that a bad signal is observed. In this case, firms must give up their quality premium, at least temporarily, as punishment. A firm's integration decision is based on the extent to which integration attenuates this necessary cost of maintaining a good reputation. Horizontal integration leads to a larger market base for the merged firm and may allow better monitoring of the firm's choices, hence improving the punishment scheme for deviations. On the other hand, it gives the merged firm more room for sophisticated derivations. We characterize the optimal level of integration and provide sufficient conditions under which nonintegration dominates integration. We show that the optimal size of the firm is smaller when (1) trades are more frequent and information is disseminated more rapidly; or (2) the deviation gain is smaller than the honesty benefit; or (3) customer information about firm choices is more precise.

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Paper provided by David K. Levine in its series Levine's Working Paper Archive with number 122247000000002038.

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Date of creation: 21 Mar 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levarc:122247000000002038
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  1. Mailath, George J & Samuelson, Larry, 2001. "Who Wants a Good Reputation?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(2), pages 415-41, April.
  2. Rafael Rob, 2004. "Is Bigger Better? Investing in Reputation," Theory workshop papers 658612000000000086, UCLA Department of Economics.
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  6. Mailath, George J & Samuelson, Larry, 2001. "Who Wants a Good Reputation? Erratum," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(3), pages 714, July.
  7. Hongbin Cai & Ichiro Obara, 2008. "Firm Reputation and Horizontal Integration," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002038, David K. Levine.
  8. Fudenberg, Drew & Levine, David I & Maskin, Eric, 1994. "The Folk Theorem with Imperfect Public Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(5), pages 997-1039, September.
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  19. Ginger Zhe Jin & Phillip Leslie, 2009. "Reputational Incentives for Restaurant Hygiene," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 237-67, February.
  20. Abreu, Dilip & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1986. "Optimal cartel equilibria with imperfect monitoring," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 251-269, June.
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  22. Abreu, Dilip & Milgrom, Paul & Pearce, David, 1991. "Information and Timing in Repeated Partnerships," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(6), pages 1713-33, November.
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  25. Bengt Holmstrom & John Roberts, 1998. "The Boundaries of the Firm Revisited," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 73-94, Fall.
  26. Matsushima, Hitoshi, 2001. "Multimarket Contact, Imperfect Monitoring, and Implicit Collusion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 98(1), pages 158-178, May.
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