The Dynamics of Seller Reputation: Theory and Evidence from Ebay

61 Pages Posted: 6 May 2004

See all articles by Luis M. B. Cabral

Luis M. B. Cabral

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Ali Hortacsu

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 2004

Abstract

We propose a basic theoretical model of eBay's reputation mechanism, derive a series of implications and empirically test their validity. Our theoretical model features both adverse selection and moral hazard. We show that when a seller receives a negative rating for the first time his reputation decreases and so does his effort level. This implies a decline in sales and sale price; and an increase in the rate of arrival of subsequent negative feedback. Our model also suggests that sellers with worse records are more likely to exit (and possibly re-enter under a new identity), whereas, better sellers have more to gain from 'buying a reputation' by building up a record of favourable feedback through purchases rather than sales. Our empirical evidence, based on a panel dataset of seller feedback histories and cross-sectional data on transaction prices collected from eBay, is broadly consistent will all of these predictions. An important conclusion of our results is that eBay's reputation system gives way to strategic responses from both buyers and sellers.

Keywords: Moral hazard, quality, reputation, auctions, eBay

JEL Classification: D44, L15, L86

Suggested Citation

Cabral, Luis M. B. and Hortacsu, Ali, The Dynamics of Seller Reputation: Theory and Evidence from Ebay (April 2004). CEPR Discussion Paper No. 4345. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=541161

Luis M. B. Cabral (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business - Department of Economics ( email )

269 Mercer Street
New York, NY 10003
United States
212-998-0858 (Phone)
212-998-4218 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/~lcabral

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Ali Hortacsu

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-5841 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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