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Secrecy and Safety

  • Jennifer F. Reinganum
  • Andrew F. Daughety

We employ a simple two-period model to show that the use of confidential settlement as a strategy for a firm facing tort litigation leads to lower average product safety than that which would be produced if a firm were committed to openness. Moreover, confidentiality can even lead to declining average product safety over time. We also show that a rational risk-neutral consumerÂ’s response to a market environment, wherein a firm engages in confidential settlement agreements, may be to reduce demand. We discuss how firm profitability is influenced by the decision to have open or confidential settlements; all else equal, a firm following a policy of openness will pay higher equilibrium wages and incur higher training costs, though product demand will not be diminished (as it may be for a firm employing confidentiality). Further, we characterize the choice of regime, providing conditions such that, if the cost of credible auditing (to verify openness) is low enough, a firm will choose to pay for auditing and eschew confidentiality

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Paper provided by Econometric Society in its series Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings with number 53.

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Date of creation: 11 Aug 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ecm:nasm04:53
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  1. Cho, In-Koo & Kreps, David M, 1987. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(2), pages 179-221, May.
  2. Bagwell, Kyle & Riordan, Michael H, 1991. "High and Declining Prices Signal Product Quality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 224-39, March.
  3. Daughety, Andrew & Reinganum, Jennifer, 1992. "Product Safety: Liability, R & D and Signaling," Working Papers 94-17, University of Iowa, Department of Economics, revised 1994.
  4. Kyle Bagwell, 1991. "Pricing to Signal Product Line Quality," Discussion Papers 921, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  5. Jennifer F. Reinganum & Louise L. Wilde, 1986. "Settlement, Litigation, and the Allocation of Litigation Costs," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(4), pages 557-566, Winter.
  6. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1986. "Price and Advertising Signals of Product Quality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 796-821, August.
  7. Banks, Jeffrey S. & Sobel, Joel., 1985. "Equilibrium Selection in Signaling Games," Working Papers 565, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  8. Mark N. Hertzendorf, 1993. "I'm Not a High-Quality Firm -- But I Play One on TV," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(2), pages 236-247, Summer.
  9. Fluet, Claude & Garella, Paolo G., 2002. "Advertising and prices as signals of quality in a regime of price rivalry," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 20(7), pages 907-930, September.
  10. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2002. "Informational Externalities in Settlement Bargaining: Confidentiality and Correlated Culpability," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(4), pages 587-604, Winter.
  11. Yang, Bill Z., 1996. "Litigation, experimentation, and reputation," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 491-502, December.
  12. Mark N. Hertzendorf & Per Baltzer Overgaard, 2001. "Price Competition and Advertising Signals: Signaling by Competing Senders," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(4), pages 621-662, December.
  13. Laurent Linnemer, 1998. "Entry Deterrence, Product Quality: Price and Advertising as Signals," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(4), pages 615-645, December.
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