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Cooperation Without Enforcement? A comparative analysis of litigation and online reputation as quality assurance mechanisms

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  • Bakos, Yannis
  • Dellarocas, Chrysanthos

Abstract

Online reputation mechanisms are emerging as a promising alternative to more established mechanisms for promoting trust and cooperative behavior, such as legally enforceable contracts. As information technology dramatically reduces the cost of accumulating, processing and disseminating consumer feedback, it is plausible to ask whether such mechanisms can provide an economically more efficient solution to a wide range of moral hazard settings where societies currently rely on the threat of litigation in order to induce cooperation. In this paper we compare online reputation to legal enforcement as institutional mechanisms in terms of their ability to induce cooperative behavior. Furthermore, we explore the impact of information technology on their relative economic efficiency. We find that although both mechanisms result in losses relative to the maximum possible social surplus, under certain conditions online reputation outperforms litigation in terms of maximizing the total surplus, and thus the resulting social welfar

Suggested Citation

  • Bakos, Yannis & Dellarocas, Chrysanthos, 2003. "Cooperation Without Enforcement? A comparative analysis of litigation and online reputation as quality assurance mechanisms," Working papers 4295-03, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:mit:sloanp:1850
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/1850
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. MacLeod, W. Bentley, 2006. "Reputations, Relationships and the Enforcement of Incomplete Contracts," IZA Discussion Papers 1978, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Ekmekci, Mehmet, 2011. "Sustainable reputations with rating systems," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 146(2), pages 479-503, March.
    3. Robert Gazzale & Tapan Khopkar, 2011. "Remain silent and ye shall suffer: seller exploitation of reticent buyers in an experimental reputation system," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 14(2), pages 273-285, May.
    4. Dellarocas, Chrysanthos, 2004. "The Digitization of Word-of-Mouth: Promise and Challenges of Online Feedback," Working papers 4296-03, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    5. Alp E. Atakan & Mehmet Ekmekci, 2012. "Reputation in Long-Run Relationships," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(2), pages 451-480.
    6. Dellarocas, Chrysanthos, 2003. "The Digitization of Word-of-mouth: Promise and Challenges of Online Feedback Mechanisms," Working papers 4296-03, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    7. Prüfer, J.O., 2014. "Trusting Privacy in the Cloud," Discussion Paper 2014-047, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
    8. Yabing Jiang & Hong Guo, 2012. "Design of Consumer Review Systems and Product Pricing," Working Papers 12-10, NET Institute.

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