Strategic Disclosure: The Case of Business School Rankings
25 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2013 Last revised: 25 Nov 2014
Date Written: November 24, 2014
We empirically analyze disclosure decisions made by 240 MBA programs about which rankings to display on their websites. We present three main findings. First, consistent with theories of countersignaling, top schools are least likely to disclose their rankings, whereas mid-ranked schools are most likely to disclose. Second, schools that do poorly in the U.S. News rankings are more likely to disclose their Princeton Review certification, suggesting that schools treat different certifications as substitutes. Third, conditional on displaying a ranking, the majority of schools coarsen information to make it seem more favorable. The stark patterns in the data help to provide empirical evidence on the strategic elements of voluntary disclosure and marketing decisions.
Keywords: Voluntary Disclosure, Information Unraveling, Marketing, Countersignaling, Rankings
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