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Bridging the Trust Gap in Electronic Markets

Author

Listed:
  • Gary Bolton
  • Elena Katok
  • Axel Ockenfels

Abstract

Trust that suppliers and buyers will keep their word is a necessary ingredient to a well functioning marketplace. Nowhere is the issue trickier than for electronic markets, where transactions tend to be geographically diffuse and anonymous, putting them out of the reach of the legal safeguards and the long-term relationships that build trust in the brick-and-mortar world. Many online platforms have turned to automated reputation systems as a way of giving traders a heads-up on who they are dealing with. Here we describe a strategic framework for thinking about these systems. We also describe some lab data that provides an initial sense of effectiveness. We find that reputation has substantial positive effect, but not enough to be a close substitute for personal relationships; this is so even though our laboratory test abstracts away from many of the problems reputation systems must confront in the field. The evidence suggests directions for improving automated reputation system performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Gary Bolton & Elena Katok & Axel Ockenfels, 2002. "Bridging the Trust Gap in Electronic Markets," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2002-26, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:esi:discus:2002-26
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Miller, Nolan & Resnick, Paul & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2002. "Eliciting Honest Feedback in Electronic Markets," Working Paper Series rwp02-039, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    2. Kreps, David M. & Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Rational cooperation in the finitely repeated prisoners' dilemma," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 245-252, August.
    3. Dan Ariely & Axel Ockenfels & Alvin E. Roth, 2005. "An Experimental Analysis of Ending Rules in Internet Auctions," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(4), pages 890-907, Winter.
    4. Paul Resnick & Richard Zeckhauser & John Swanson & Kate Lockwood, 2006. "The value of reputation on eBay: A controlled experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 9(2), pages 79-101, June.
    5. Gary Bolton & Elena Katok & Axel Ockenfels, 2002. "How Effective are Online Reputation Mechanisms?," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2002-25, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
    6. Greif, Avner, 1989. "Reputation and Coalitions in Medieval Trade: Evidence on the Maghribi Traders," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 857-882, December.
    7. Alvin E. Roth, 2002. "The Economist as Engineer: Game Theory, Experimentation, and Computation as Tools for Design Economics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(4), pages 1341-1378, July.
    8. Erik Brynjolfsson & Michael D. Smith, 2000. "Frictionless Commerce? A Comparison of Internet and Conventional Retailers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(4), pages 563-585, April.
    9. M.A. Nowak & K. Sigmund, 1998. "Evolution of Indirect Reciprocity by Image Scoring/ The Dynamics of Indirect Reciprocity," Working Papers ir98040, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.
    10. Okuno-Fujiwara Masahiro & Postlewaite Andrew, 1995. "Social Norms and Random Matching Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 79-109, April.
    11. Michihiro Kandori, 1992. "Social Norms and Community Enforcement," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(1), pages 63-80.
    12. Daniel Houser & John Wooders, 2006. "Reputation in Auctions: Theory, and Evidence from eBay," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(2), pages 353-369, June.
    13. Axel Ockenfels, 2002. "Reputationsmechanismen auf Internet-Marktplattformen - Theorie und Empirie -," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2002-46, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
    14. Eric J. Friedman* & Paul Resnick, 2001. "The Social Cost of Cheap Pseudonyms," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(2), pages 173-199, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gabuthy, Yannick & Jacquemet, Nicolas & Marchand, Nadège, 2008. "Does resorting to online dispute resolution promote agreements? Experimental evidence," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 259-282, February.
    2. Axel Ockenfels, 2002. "Reputationsmechanismen auf Internet-Marktplattformen - Theorie und Empirie -," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2002-46, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
    3. Axel Ockenfels & David Reiley & Abdolkarim Sadrieh, 2006. "Online Auctions," NBER Working Papers 12785, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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