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Money Talks: Rebate Mechanisms in Reputation System Design

Lingfang (Ivy) Li () and Erte Xiao ()
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Lingfang (Ivy) Li: Department of Industrial Economics, School of Management, Fudan University, 200433 Shanghai, China

Management Science, 2014, vol. 60, issue 8, 2054-2072

Abstract: Reputation systems that rely on voluntary feedback from traders are important in creating and sustaining trust in markets. Feedback nevertheless is a public good, and providing it is often costly. We combine theory with a laboratory experiment to study the effect of a seller precommitment mechanism: Sellers have an option to commit by providing a rebate to reduce the buyer's feedback reporting cost before making purchasing decisions. Our theory predicts that this mechanism induces noncooperative sellers to cooperate in the listed-price market. Using a buyer--seller trust game with a unilateral feedback scheme, we find that the seller's rebate decision has a significant impact on the buyer's purchasing decision via signaling the seller's cooperative type. More importantly, market efficiency under the precommitment mechanism increases with the probability that sellers will provide a rebate. Compared with the no rebate mechanism market, more efficient trades can be achieved when the sellers offer a rebate to the buyers in the market with the rebate mechanism, even when the rebate does not cover the full cost of feedback reporting.Data, as supplemental material, are available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2013.1848 . This paper was accepted by Teck-Hua Ho, behavioral economics.

Keywords: reputation; trust; feedback mechanism; asymmetric information; public good; experimental economics (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014
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