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Strategic Disclosure: The Case of Business School Rankings

Author

Listed:
  • Michael Luca

    () (Harvard Business School, Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit)

  • Jonathan Smith

    () (The College Board -Advocacy & Policy Center)

Abstract

We empirically analyze disclosure decisions made by 240 MBA programs about which rankings to display on their websites. We present three main findings. First, consistent with theories of countersignaling, top schools are least likely to disclose their rankings, whereas mid-ranked schools are most likely to disclose. Second, schools that do poorly in the U.S. News rankings are more likely to disclose their Princeton Review certification, suggesting that schools treat different certifications as substitutes. Third, conditional on displaying a ranking, the majority of schools coarsen information to make it seem more favorable. The stark patterns in the data help to provide empirical evidence on the strategic elements of voluntary disclosure and marketing decisions.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Luca & Jonathan Smith, 2013. "Strategic Disclosure: The Case of Business School Rankings," Harvard Business School Working Papers 14-010, Harvard Business School, revised Nov 2014.
  • Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:14-010
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David Dranove & Ginger Zhe Jin, 2010. "Quality Disclosure and Certification: Theory and Practice," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(4), pages 935-963, December.
    2. Grossman, Sanford J, 1981. "The Informational Role of Warranties and Private Disclosure about Product Quality," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 461-483, December.
    3. Michael Luca & Jonathan Smith, 2013. "Salience in Quality Disclosure: Evidence from the U.S. News College Rankings," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(1), pages 58-77, March.
    4. Paul R. Milgrom, 1981. "Good News and Bad News: Representation Theorems and Applications," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(2), pages 380-391, Autumn.
    5. Nick Feltovich & Richmond Harbaugh & Ted To, 2002. "Too Cool for School? Signalling and Countersignalling," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(4), pages 630-649, Winter.
    6. Jin, Ginger Zhe & Sorensen, Alan T., 2006. "Information and consumer choice: The value of publicized health plan ratings," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 248-275, March.
    7. Amy Finkelstein, 2009. "E-ztax: Tax Salience and Tax Rates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(3), pages 969-1010.
    8. Boyan Jovanovic, 1982. "Truthful Disclosure of Information," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(1), pages 36-44, Spring.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Voluntary Disclosure; Information Unraveling; Marketing; Countersignaling; Rankings;

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