The Value of Reciprocity in Online Barter Markets: An Empirical Investigation

Forthcoming, MIS Quarterly

68 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2016 Last revised: 23 Dec 2017

See all articles by Shun Ye

Shun Ye

George Mason University - Department of Information Systems and Operations Management

Siva Viswanathan

University of Maryland - Robert H. Smith School of Business

Il-Horn Hann

University of Maryland - Decision and Information Technologies Department

Date Written: January 1, 2016

Abstract

This study empirically examines online peer-to-peer (P2P) barter markets, in which individuals trade goods or services without the use of money. Using detailed transaction data and weblog data from a leading online P2P barter market for books, we examine the role of reciprocal relationships in the initiation and fulfillment of exchanges. We find that avid users with a higher demand for books are more likely to establish and utilize reciprocal relationships compared to non-avid users. In examining the value of reciprocal relationships, we find that the use of reciprocal relationships provides significant value throughout the entire market exchange process. First, reciprocal relationships enable an avid user to find new books and new exchange partners through exploratory browsing, which lowers her search costs. Second, browsing reciprocal partners enables an avid user to discover books in new topics, despite that reciprocal partners share similar book tastes with the user. Lastly, reciprocal relationships help improve the exchange outcome through lower rejection rates and faster delivery speeds. Our findings provide important insights into the role of reciprocal relationships in facilitating exchanges in online markets and provide useful implications for the design of decentralized online P2P markets.

Keywords: Reciprocity, online barter markets, online sharing platforms, information asymmetry, econometric analyses

Suggested Citation

Ye, Shun and Viswanathan, Siva and Hann, Il-Horn, The Value of Reciprocity in Online Barter Markets: An Empirical Investigation (January 1, 2016). Forthcoming, MIS Quarterly, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2710505 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2710505

Shun Ye

George Mason University - Department of Information Systems and Operations Management ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

Siva Viswanathan (Contact Author)

University of Maryland - Robert H. Smith School of Business ( email )

College Park, MD 20742-1815
United States

Il-Horn Hann

University of Maryland - Decision and Information Technologies Department ( email )

Robert H. Smith School of Business
4313 Van Munching Hall
College Park, MD 20815
United States

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