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An Empirical Study of Online Software Outsourcing: Signals under Different Contract Regimes

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Abstract

We study whether and how contractual arrangements (fixed price vs. time-and-materials contracts) change the effect of reputation, certification, and language characteristics on the chances of winning outsourcing contracts. Using a comprehensive dataset from an online outsourcing marketplace, we model how buyers choose among bidding vendors, and how the effects of these variables change under different contract forms. Our results show that online reputation is an important predictor of success only for fixed-price contracts, but not significant for times-and-materials contracts. In other words, contract forms can mitigate the typical Matthew Effect associated with online reputation systems. Contrary to popular belief, certifications do not increase the chances of winning regardless of the contract forms. Linguistic features of private communications from the vendor to the buyer also affect the chances of winning, and different dimensions have different effects when contract forms change. Our study is one of the first to study the interaction between contract formats and different signals that vendors can reveal to buyers in the competitive bidding process, and is also one of the first to investigate how texts of private communications affect buyers' contracting decisions.

Suggested Citation

  • Mingfeng Lin & Siva Viswanathan & Ritu Agarwal, 2010. "An Empirical Study of Online Software Outsourcing: Signals under Different Contract Regimes," Working Papers 10-22, NET Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:net:wpaper:1022
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    File URL: http://www.netinst.org/Lin_Viswanathan_Agarwal_10-22.pdf
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    1. Bajari, Patrick & Tadelis, Steven, 2001. "Incentives versus Transaction Costs: A Theory of Procurement Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(3), pages 387-407, Autumn.
    2. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2000. "Reputation Effects and the Limits of Contracting: A Study of the Indian Software Industry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 989-1017.
    3. Tykvova, Tereza, 2007. "Who chooses whom? Syndication, skills and reputation," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 5-28.
    4. Anandasivam Gopal & Konduru Sivaramakrishnan & M. S. Krishnan & Tridas Mukhopadhyay, 2003. "Contracts in Offshore Software Development: An Empirical Analysis," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(12), pages 1671-1683, December.
    5. Debabrata Dey & Ming Fan & Conglei Zhang, 2010. "Design and Analysis of Contracts for Software Outsourcing," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 21(1), pages 93-114, March.
    6. Sameer Hasija & Edieal J. Pinker & Robert A. Shumsky, 2008. "Call Center Outsourcing Contracts Under Information Asymmetry," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 54(4), pages 793-807, April.
    7. Joshua D. Angrist, 1998. "Estimating the Labor Market Impact of Voluntary Military Service Using Social Security Data on Military Applicants," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(2), pages 249-288, March.
    8. David H. Autor, 2001. "Wiring the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 25-40, Winter.
    9. Tracy R. Lewis, 1986. "Reputation and Contractual Performance in Long-Term Projects," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(2), pages 141-157, Summer.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    two-sided markets; asymmetric information; contract; outsourcing; offshoring; reputation; certification; text analysis.;

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions

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