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Network Effects, Bargaining Power, and Product Review Bias: Theory and Evidence

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  • Tom Hamami

Abstract

I construct a theoretical framework for expert product reviews and demonstrate how the existence of positive network effects can make review inflation profitable even when fully rational consumers understand the existence of bias. This finding moreover suggests that product reviews, in addition to transmitting information, may also serve as a coordination mechanism for early adopters. Empirical application to video game review data suggests that this industry is in an inflation equilibrium. Specifically, I find evidence that reviews are inflated for games produced by large firms and for those that are part of pre-existing game franchises. Additionally, I find that review inflation is heterogeneous across genres that vary by the extent to which they produce network externalities, and I argue that this result is inconsistent with alternative explanations of review inflation.

Suggested Citation

  • Tom Hamami, 2016. "Network Effects, Bargaining Power, and Product Review Bias: Theory and Evidence," 2016 Papers pha1136, Job Market Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:jmp:jm2016:pha1136
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dobrescu, Loretti I. & Luca, Michael & Motta, Alberto, 2013. "What makes a critic tick? Connected authors and the determinants of book reviews," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 85-103.
    2. Goh, Jeremy C & Ederington, Louis H, 1993. " Is a Bond Rating Downgrade Bad News, Good News, or No News for Stockholders?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 48(5), pages 2001-2008, December.
    3. Richard Friberg & Erik Grönqvist, 2012. "Do Expert Reviews Affect the Demand for Wine?," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 193-211, January.
    4. Blasco, Andrea & Pin, Paolo & Sobbrio, Francesco, 2016. "Paying positive to go negative: Advertisers׳ competition and media reports," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 243-261.
    5. Camara, Fanny & Dupuis, Nicolas, 2014. "Structural Estimation of Expert Strategic Bias: The Case of Movie Reviewers," TSE Working Papers 14-534, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    6. repec:eee:joreco:v:21:y:2014:i:3:p:401-406 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Daniel Kaimann & Joe Cox, 2014. "The Signaling Effect of Critics: Do Professionals outweigh Word-of-Mouth? Evidence from the Video Game Industry," Working Papers Dissertations 10, Paderborn University, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis

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