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Experts and Their Records

  • Alexander Frankel
  • Michael Schwarz
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    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.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14921.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14921.

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    Date of creation: Apr 2009
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    Publication status: published as Experts and Their Records (with Michael Schwarz) Published: Economic Inquiry, January 2014 [52(1):56-71]
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14921
    Note: LS
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    1. 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.
    2. 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, 09.
    3. Jeffrey Ely & Drew Fudenberg & David K Levine, 2005. "When is Reputation Bad," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000016, David K. Levine.
    4. Asher Wolinsky, 1991. "Competition in a Market for Informed Experts' Services," Discussion Papers 959, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    5. Winand Emons, 1997. "Credence Goods and Fraudelent Experts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(1), pages 107-119, Spring.
    6. Pitchik, Carolyn & Schotter, Andrew, 1987. "Honesty in a Model of Strategic Information Transmission," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 1032-36, December.
    7. Jeffrey C. Ely & Juuso Valimaki, 2002. "Bad Reputation," Discussion Papers 1348, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    8. Uwe Dulleck & Rudolf Kerschbamer, 2007. "Experts vs. Discounters: Consumer Free Riding and Experts Withholding Advice in Markets for Credence Goods," Working Papers 2007-21, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
    9. Townsend, Robert M, 1982. "Optimal Multiperiod Contracts and the Gain from Enduring Relationships under Private Information," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1166-86, December.
    10. Pesendorfer, Martin, 2000. "A Study of Collusion in First-Price Auctions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(3), pages 381-411, July.
    11. Darby, Michael R & Karni, Edi, 1973. "Free Competition and the Optimal Amount of Fraud," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 67-88, April.
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