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Learning more by doing less


  • Raphael Boleslavsky

    (Department of Economics, University of Miami)

  • Christopher Cotton

    (Department of Economics, University of Miami)


Self-interested agents (e.g., interest groups, researchers) produce verifiable evidence in an attempt to convince a principal (e.g., legislator, funding organization) to act on their behalf (e.g., introduce legislation, fund research). Agents provide less informative evidence than the principal prefers since doing so maximizes the probability the principal acts in their favor. If the principal faces budget or other constraints that limit the number of agents whose proposals she can support, then agents produce more-accurate evidence as they compete for priority. Under reasonable conditions, the principal is better off when her capacity to act is limited.

Suggested Citation

  • Raphael Boleslavsky & Christopher Cotton, 2011. "Learning more by doing less," Working Papers 2012-1, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mia:wpaper:2012-1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Liad Wagman & Vincent Conitzer, 2012. "Choosing fair lotteries to defeat the competition," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 41(1), pages 91-129, February.
    2. Emir Kamenica & Matthew Gentzkow, 2011. "Bayesian Persuasion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(6), pages 2590-2615, October.
    3. Yeon-Koo Che & Navin Kartik, 2009. "Opinions as Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(5), pages 815-860, October.
    4. Cotton, Christopher, 2009. "Should we tax or cap political contributions? A lobbying model with policy favors and access," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 831-842, August.
    5. Paul Milgrom & John Roberts, 1986. "Relying on the Information of Interested Parties," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(1), pages 18-32, Spring.
    6. 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.
    7. Emeric Henry, 2009. "Disclosure of research results: the cost of proving your honesty," Post-Print hal-01023670, HAL.
    8. Emeric Henry, 2009. "Strategic Disclosure of Research Results: The Cost of Proving Your Honesty," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(539), pages 1036-1064, July.
    9. Bull, Jesse & Watson, Joel, 2004. "Evidence disclosure and verifiability," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 118(1), pages 1-31, September.
    10. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/eu4vqp9ompqllr09iatr74eao is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Matthew Gentzkow & Emir Kamenica, 2011. "Competition in Persuasion," NBER Working Papers 17436, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Barbos, Andrei, 2013. "Project screening with tiered evaluation," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 293-306.
    2. Andrei Barbos, 2014. "Imperfect evaluation in project screening," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 112(1), pages 31-46, May.

    More about this item


    strategic search; evidence production; persuasion; lobbying;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance


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