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Our distrust is very expensive

Author

Listed:
  • Rahul Deb
  • Matthew Mitchell
  • Mallesh Pai

Abstract

Motivated by reputation management in a variety of different markets for ``expertise'' (such as online content providers and experts in organizations), we develop a novel repeated-game framework in which a principal screens a strategic agent whose type determines the rate at which he privately receives payoff relevant information. The stage game is a bandit setting, where the principal chooses whether or not to experiment with a risky arm which is controlled by an agent who privately knows its type. Irrespective of type, the agent strategically chooses output from the arm to maximize the duration of experimentation. Experimentation is only potentially valuable to the principal if the arm is of the high type. Our main insight is that reputational incentives can be exceedingly strong: the agent makes inefficient output choices in all equilibria (subject to a mild refinement) and that this can result in market breakdown even when the uncertainty about the agent's type is arbitrarily small. We show that (one-sided) transfers do not prevent this inefficiency and we suggest alternate ways to improve the functioning of these markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Rahul Deb & Matthew Mitchell & Mallesh Pai, 2019. "Our distrust is very expensive," Working Papers tecipa-632, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:tecipa-632
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    File URL: https://www.economics.utoronto.ca/public/workingPapers/tecipa-632.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jin Li & Niko Matouschek & Michael Powell, 2017. "Power Dynamics in Organizations," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 217-241, February.
    2. Alp E. Atakan & Mehmet Ekmekci, 2012. "Reputation in Long-Run Relationships," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(2), pages 451-480.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    reputation; repeated games of imperfect public monitoring; relational contracting; strategic experimentation; markets for expertise; media;

    JEL classification:

    • 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

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