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Strategic Experimentation with Private Payoffs

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  • Heidhues, Paul
  • Rady, Sven
  • Strack, Philipp

Abstract

We consider two players facing identical discrete-time bandit problems with a safe and a risky arm. In any period, the risky arm yields either a success or a failure, and the first success reveals the risky arm to dominate the safe one. When payoffs are public information, the ensuing free-rider problem is so severe that the equilibrium number of experiments is at most one plus the number of experiments that a single agent would perform. When payoffs are private information and players can communicate via cheap talk, the socially optimal symmetric experimentation profile can be supported as a perfect Bayesian equilibrium for sufficiently optimistic prior beliefs. These results generalize to more than two players whenever the success probability per period is not too high. In particular, this is the case when successes occur at the jump times of a Poisson process and the period length is sufficiently small.

Suggested Citation

  • Heidhues, Paul & Rady, Sven & Strack, Philipp, 2012. "Strategic Experimentation with Private Payoffs," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 387, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:trf:wpaper:387
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Sven Rady & Nicolas Klein & Johannes Horner, 2013. "Strongly Symmetric Equilibria in Bandit Games," 2013 Meeting Papers 1107, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Ganglmair, Bernhard & Simcoe, Timothy & Tarantino, Emanuele, 2018. "Learning When to Quit: An Empirical Model of Experimentation," CEPR Discussion Papers 12733, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. repec:eee:pubeco:v:152:y:2017:i:c:p:1-12 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Caroline D. Thomas, 2010. "Strategic Experimentation with Congestion," Department of Economics Working Papers 130813, The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Economics, revised Aug 2013.
    5. Kaustav Das, 2014. "Strategic Experimentation with Competition and Private Arrival of Information," Discussion Papers 1404, Exeter University, Department of Economics.
    6. Wuggenig, Mirjam, 2015. "Learning faster or more precisely? Strategic experimentation in networks," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113196, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    7. Keller, Godfrey & Rady, Sven, 2015. "Breakdowns," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 10(1), January.
    8. Gomes, Renato & Gottlieb, Daniel & Maestri, Lucas, 2016. "Experimentation and project selection: Screening and learning," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 145-169.
    9. repec:eee:jcecon:v:45:y:2017:i:4:p:685-711 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Bernhard Ganglmair & Timothy Simcoe & Emanuele Tarantino, 2018. "Learning When to Quit: An Empirical Model of Experimentation," Working Papers id:12569, eSocialSciences.
    11. Thijssen, Jacco J.J. & Bregantini, Daniele, 2017. "Costly sequential experimentation and project valuation with an application to health technology assessment," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 202-229.
    12. Wuggenig, Mirjam, 2014. "Learning faster or more precisely? Strategic experimentation in networks," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 485, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Strategic Experimentation; Bayesian Learning; Cheap Talk; Two-Armed Bandit; Information Externality.;

    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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