Strategic Experimentation with Private Payoffs

25 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2012 Last revised: 22 May 2015

See all articles by Paul Heidhues

Paul Heidhues

Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf - Duesseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE)

Sven Rady

University of Bonn

Philipp Strack

Yale, Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 20, 2015

Abstract

We consider a game of strategic experimentation in which players face 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 equilibrium experimentation ceases at the same threshold belief at which a single agent would stop, even if players can coordinate their actions through mediated communication. When payoffs are private information and the success probability on the risky arm is not too high, however, the socially optimal symmetric experimentation profile can be supported as a perfect Bayesian equilibrium for sufficiently optimistic prior beliefs, even if players can only communicate via binary cheap-talk messages.

Keywords: Strategic Experimentation, Two-Armed Bandit, Bayesian Learning, Information Externality, Mediated Communication, Cheap Talk

JEL Classification: C73, D83

Suggested Citation

Heidhues, Paul and Rady, Sven and Strack, Philipp, Strategic Experimentation with Private Payoffs (May 20, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2152117 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2152117

Paul Heidhues

Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf - Duesseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE)

Universitaetsstr. 1
Duesseldorf, NRW 40225
Germany

Sven Rady (Contact Author)

University of Bonn ( email )

Regina-Pacis-Weg 3
Postfach 2220
Bonn, D-53012
Germany

Philipp Strack

Yale, Department of Economics ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States

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