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The Value of a Reputation System

Author

Listed:
  • John Kennes

    (The University of Auckland)

  • Aaron Schiff

    (The University of Auckland)

Abstract

This paper explores the trade-off between the short-term benefits of false quality advertisements against the longer term costs of reputation damage. A directed search model is constructed in which submarkets are created by the advertisements and reputations of sellers. A reputation system links misleading advertisements in the present period to a lower reputation in the next period. We show that a reputation system always increases the prices of high quality products and directs search more accurately towards the sellers with such products. We also show that buyers are hurt by a reputation system if the market is thin -- has few sellers -- because the equilibrium increase in prices is greater than the equilibrium increase in the quality of trade. Finally, we show that a reputation system which screens for honesty increases social welfare by making sellers more truthful. However, we also show that a reputation for honesty is not always highly valued and that an alternative reputation system which screens for type can be more effective.

Suggested Citation

  • John Kennes & Aaron Schiff, 2003. "The Value of a Reputation System," Industrial Organization 0301011, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpio:0301011
    Note: Type of Document - PDF; prepared on IBM PC - PC-TEX; to print on Any; pages: 31 ; figures: included
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    File URL: https://econwpa.ub.uni-muenchen.de/econ-wp/io/papers/0301/0301011.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Julien, Benoit & Kennes, John & King, Ian, 2006. "The Mortensen rule and efficient coordination unemployment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 149-155, February.
    2. King, Ian & Kennes, John & Julien, Benoit, 2001. "Residual Wage Disparity in Directed Search Equilibrium," Working Papers 209, Department of Economics, The University of Auckland.
    3. McAfee, R Preston, 1993. "Mechanism Design by Competing Sellers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(6), pages 1281-1312, November.
    4. Kreps, David M. & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Reputation and imperfect information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 253-279, August.
    5. McAfee, R Preston & McMillan, John, 1987. "Auctions and Bidding," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 699-738, June.
    6. Kultti, Klaus, 1999. "Equivalence of Auctions and Posted Prices," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 106-113, April.
    7. Glenn Ellison, 1994. "Cooperation in the Prisoner's Dilemma with Anonymous Random Matching," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(3), pages 567-588.
    8. Benoît Julien & John Kennes & Ian King, 2002. "Auctions Beat Posted Prices in a Small Market," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 158(4), pages 548-562, December.
    9. Drew Fudenberg & David M. Kreps, 1987. "Reputation in the Simultaneous Play of Multiple Opponents," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(4), pages 541-568.
    10. Benoit Julien & John Kennes & Ian King, 2000. "Bidding for Labor," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 3(4), pages 619-649, October.
    11. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
    12. Coles, Melvyn G. & Eeckhout, Jan, 2003. "Indeterminacy and directed search," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 111(2), pages 265-276, August.
    13. Moen, Espen R, 1997. "Competitive Search Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 385-411, April.
    14. Stigler, George J., 2011. "Economics of Information," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 5, pages 35-49.
    15. Kenneth Burdett & Shouyong Shi & Randall Wright, 2001. "Pricing and Matching with Frictions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(5), pages 1060-1085, October.
    16. Diamond, Douglas W, 1989. "Reputation Acquisition in Debt Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 828-862, August.
    17. Asher Wolinsky, 1988. "Dynamic Markets with Competitive Bidding," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(1), pages 71-84.
    18. Michael Spence, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-374.
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    Cited by:

    1. John Kennes, 2004. "Competitive Auctions: Theory and Application," Discussion Papers 04-16, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    reputation systems; directed search;

    JEL classification:

    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • M37 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising - - - Advertising

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