Experimental Evidence of Pooling Outcomes Under Information Asymmetry

42 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2015 Last revised: 22 Oct 2015

See all articles by William Schmidt

William Schmidt

Cornell University - Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management

Ryan W. Buell

Harvard Business School

Date Written: October 21, 2015

Abstract

Operational decisions under information asymmetry can signal a firm's prospects to less-informed parties, such as investors, customers, competitors, and regulators. Consequently, managers in these settings often face a tradeoff between making an optimal decision and sending a favorable signal. We provide experimental evidence on the choices made by decision makers in such settings. Equilibrium assumptions that are commonly applied to analyze these situations yield the least cost separating outcome as the unique equilibrium. In this equilibrium, the more informed party undertakes a costly signal to resolve the information asymmetry that exists. We provide evidence, however, that participants are much more likely to pursue a pooling outcome when such an outcome is available. This result is important for research and practice because pooling and separating outcomes can yield dramatically different results and have divergent implications. We find evidence that the choice to pool is influenced by changes in the underlying newsvendor model parameters in our setting. In robustness tests, we show that choosing a pooling outcome is especially pronounced among participants who report a high level of understanding of the setting and that participants who pool are rewarded by the less informed party with higher payoffs. Finally, we demonstrate through a reexamination of Lai et al. (2012) and Cachon and Lariviere (2001) how pooling outcomes can substantively extend the implications of other extant signaling game models in the operations management literature.

Suggested Citation

Schmidt, William and Buell, Ryan W., Experimental Evidence of Pooling Outcomes Under Information Asymmetry (October 21, 2015). Harvard Business School Technology & Operations Mgt. Unit Working Paper No. 15-001. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2631538 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2631538

William Schmidt

Cornell University - Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Ryan W. Buell (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan Hall 429
Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-496-6918 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.hbs.edu/rbuell

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