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When is Reputation Bad?

  • Jeffrey Ely
  • Drew Fudenberg
  • David K. Levine

In traditional reputation theory, reputation is good for the long-run player. In “Bad Reputation,” Ely and Valimaki give an example in which reputation is unambiguously bad. This paper characterizes a more general class of games in which that insight holds, and presents some examples to illustrate when the bad reputation effect does and does not play a role. The key properties are that participation is optional for the short-run players, and that every action of the long-run player that makes the short-run players want to participate has a chance of being interpreted as a signal that the long-run player is “bad. ” We also broaden the set of commitment types, allowing many types, including the “Stackelberg type” used to prove positive results on reputation. Although reputation need not be bad if the probability of the Stackelberg type is too high, the relative probability of the Stackelberg type can be high when all commitment types are unlikely.

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Paper provided by Harvard - Institute of Economic Research in its series Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers with number 2035.

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Date of creation: 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:2035
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  1. D. Fudenberg & D. M. Kreps & E. Maskin, 1998. "Repeated Games with Long-run and Short-run Players," Levine's Working Paper Archive 608, David K. Levine.
  2. George J. Mailath & Larry Samuelson, . ""Who Wants a Good Reputation?''," CARESS Working Papres 98-12, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  3. Celentani, Marco, et al, 1996. "Maintaining a Reputation against a Long-Lived Opponent," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(3), pages 691-704, May.
  4. George J. Mailath & Larry Samuelson, 1998. "Your Reputation Is Who You're Not, Not Who You'd Like To Be," CARESS Working Papres rep-is-sep, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  5. David Kreps & Robert Wilson, 1999. "Reputation and Imperfect Information," Levine's Working Paper Archive 238, David K. Levine.
  6. Stephen Morris, 2001. "Political Correctness," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(2), pages 231-265, April.
  7. 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.
  8. Fudenberg, D. & Levine, D.K., 1991. "Efficiency and Obsevability with Long-Run and Short-Run Players," Working papers 591, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  9. Drew Fudenberg & David Levine, 1987. "Reputation and Equilibrium Selection in Games With a Patient Player," Working papers 461, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  10. Marco Celentani & Drew Fudenberg & David K Levine & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2006. "Maintaining A Reputation Against A Patient Opponent," Levine's Working Paper Archive 699152000000000019, David K. Levine.
  11. Jeffrey C. Ely & Juuso Välimäki, 2003. "Bad Reputation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 785-814, August.
  12. Fudenberg, Drew & Kreps, David M, 1987. "Reputation in the Simultaneous Play of Multiple Opponents," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(4), pages 541-68, October.
  13. Fudenberg, Drew & Levine, David K, 1992. "Maintaining a Reputation When Strategies Are Imperfectly Observed," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(3), pages 561-79, July.
  14. Mailath, George J & Samuelson, Larry, 2001. "Who Wants a Good Reputation? Erratum," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(3), pages 714, July.
  15. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1982. "Predation, reputation, and entry deterrence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 280-312, August.
  16. Sorin, Sylvain, 1999. "Merging, Reputation, and Repeated Games with Incomplete Information," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 29(1-2), pages 274-308, October.
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