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Skill Management in Large-Scale Service Marketplaces

47 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2015 Last revised: 29 Mar 2017

Date Written: September 21, 2015


Large-scale, web-based service marketplaces have recently emerged as a new resource for customers who need quick resolutions for their short-term problems. Due to the temporary nature of the relations between customers and service providers (agents) in these marketplaces, customers may not have an opportunity to assess the ability of an agent before their service completion. On the other hand, the moderating firm has a more sustained relationship with agents, and thus it can provide customers with more information about the abilities of agents through skill screening mechanisms. In this paper, we consider a marketplace where the moderating firm can run two skills tests on agents to assess if their skills are above certain thresholds. Our main objective is to evaluate the effectiveness of skill screening as a revenue maximization tool. We, specifically, analyze how much benefit the firm obtains after each additional skill test. We find that skill screening leads to negligible revenue improvements in marketplaces where agent skills are highly compatible and the average service times are similar for all customers. As the compatibility of agent skills weakens or the customers start to vary in their processing time needs, we show that the firm starts to experience sizable improvements in revenue from skill screening. Apparently, the firm can reap the most of these substantial benefits when it runs only one test. For instance, in marketplaces where agents posses uncorrelated skills, the second skill test only brings an additional 2% improvement in revenue. Accounting for possible skill screening costs, we then show the optimality of offering only one test when the compatibility between agent skills is sufficiently low. The results of this paper also have important implications in terms of the right level of intervention in the marketplaces we study.

Keywords: Service marketplaces, skill management, flexible resources, price competition, non-cooperative game theory.

Suggested Citation

Allon, Gad and Bassamboo, Achal and Cil, Eren, Skill Management in Large-Scale Service Marketplaces (September 21, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Gad Allon

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Achal Bassamboo

Northwestern University - Department of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences (MEDS) ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Eren Cil (Contact Author)

University of Oregon - Department of Decision Sciences ( email )

Eugene, OR 97403
United States

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