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Experts and Their Records


  • Alexander Frankel
  • Michael Schwarz


Consider an environment where long-lived experts repeatedly interact with short-lived customers. In periods when an expert is hired, she chooses between providing a profitable major treatment or a less profitable minor treatment. The expert has private information about which treatment best serves the customer, but has no direct incentive to act in the customer's interest. Customers can observe the past record of each expert's actions, but never learn which actions would have been appropriate. We find that there exists an equilibrium in which experts always play truthfully and choose the customer's preferred treatment. The expert is rewarded for choosing the less profitable action with future business: customers return to an expert with high probability if the previous treatment was minor, and low probability if it was major. If experts have private information regarding their own payoffs as well as what treatments are appropriate, then there is no equilibrium with truthful play in every period. But we construct equilibria where experts are truthful arbitrarily often as their discount factor converges to one.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander Frankel & Michael Schwarz, 2009. "Experts and Their Records," NBER Working Papers 14921, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14921
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jeffrey Ely & Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 2008. "When is reputation bad?," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: A Long-Run Collaboration On Long-Run Games, chapter 10, pages 177-205 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
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    6. Henry S. Schneider, 2012. "Agency Problems and Reputation in Expert Services: Evidence from Auto Repair," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 406-433, September.
    7. Martin Pesendorfer, 2000. "A Study of Collusion in First-Price Auctions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(3), pages 381-411.
    8. Ingela Alger & François Salanié, 2006. "A Theory of Fraud and Overtreatment in Experts Markets," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(4), pages 853-881, December.
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    10. Pitchik, Carolyn & Schotter, Andrew, 1987. "Honesty in a Model of Strategic Information Transmission," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 1032-1036, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Vincze, János, 2010. "Miért és mitől védjük a fogyasztókat?. Aszimmetrikus információ és/vagy korlátozott racionalitás
      [Asymmetric information and/or bounded rationality: why are consumers protected and from what?]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(9), pages 725-752.
    2. Chris Kuo, 2013. "Billing Abuses by the Experts: A Game-Theoretic Analysis of Legal Services," Journal of Economics and Management, College of Business, Feng Chia University, Taiwan, vol. 9(1), pages 13-30, January.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General

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