Featured Article: (click “read more” to view a Q&A with the author)

Volume 29, Issue 4, Winter 2020

The impact of COVID‐19 on small business owners: Evidence from the first three months after widespread social‐distancing restrictions

Robert Fairlie

Social‐distancing restrictions and health‐ and economic‐driven demand shifts from COVID‐19 are expected to shutter many small businesses and entrepreneurial ventures, but there is very little early evidence on impacts. This paper provides the first analysis of impacts of the pandemic on the number of active small businesses in the United States using nationally representative data from the April 2020 Current Population Survey—the first month fully capturing early effects. The number of active business owners in the United States plummeted by 3.3 million or 22% over the crucial 2‐month window from February to April 2020. The drop in active business owners was the largest on record, and losses to business activity were felt across nearly all industries. African‐American businesses were hit especially hard experiencing a 41% drop in business activity. Latinx business owner activity fell by 32%, and Asian business owner activity dropped by 26%. Simulations indicate that industry compositions partly placed these groups at a higher risk of business activity losses. Immigrant business owners experienced substantial losses in business activity of 36%. Female business owners were also disproportionately affected (25% drop in business activity). Continuing the analysis in May and June, the number of active business owners remained low—down by 15% and 8%, respectively. The continued losses in May and June, and partial rebounds from April were felt across all demographic groups and most industries. These findings of early‐stage losses to small business activity have important implications for policy, income losses, and future economic inequality.

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Robert Fairlie

Previously Featured Articles

Web of Science Most Cited (2015-2018)
      1. Crowdfunding: Geography, Social Networks, and the Timing of Investment Decisions, by Ajay Agrawal, Christian Catalini, and Avi Goldfarb, Summer 2015
      2. Privacy Regulation and Market Structure, by James Campbell, Avi Goldfarb, and Catherine Tucker, Spring 2015
      3. Endowment Origin, Demographic Effects, and Individual Preferences in Contests, by Curtis R. Price and Roman M. Sheremeta, Fall 2015
      4. The Provision of Relative Performance Feedback: An Analysis of Performance and Satisfaction, by Ghazala Azmat and Nagore Iriberri, Spring 2016
      5. Promotion Signals, Experience, and Education, by Michael Bognanno and Eduardo Melero, Spring 2016
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    1. Private Politics, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Integrated Strategy, by David P. Baron, Spring 2001
    2. Value‐based Business Strategy, by Adam M. Brandenburger and Harborne W. Stuart, Jr., Spring 1996
    3. How Well Do Social Ratings Actually Measure Corporate Social Responsibility? by Aaron K. Chatterji, David I. Levine, and Michael W. Toffel, Spring 2009
    4. A Practitioner’s Guide to Estimation of Random‐Coefficients Logit Models of Demand, by Aviv Nevo, Winter 2000
    5. An Empirical Analysis of the Strategic Use of Corporate Social Responsibility, by Donald S. Siegel Donald F. Vitaliano, Fall 2007

Recently Published Articles

Volume 29, Issue 4, Winter 2020 (current issue)

Multiple‐quality Cournot oligopoly and the role of market size

Ngo Van Long and Zhuang Miao
We model an oligopoly where firms are allowed to freely enter and exit the market and choose the quality level of their products by incurring different setup costs. Using this framework, we study the mix of firms in the long‐run Cournot–Nash equilibrium under different cost structures and the effects of market size on market outcomes.

Collusion under different pricing schemes

Florian Gössl and Alexander Rasch
We analyze collusive outcomes under different pricing schemes in a differentiated product market in which customers have elastic demand.

Contracting under unverifiable monetary costs

Nicolas Quérou, Antoine Soubeyran, and Raphael Soubeyran
We consider a contracting relationship where the agent's effort induces monetary costs, and limits on the agent's resource restrict his capability to exert effort. We show that the principal finds it best to offer a sharing contract while providing the agent with an up‐front financial transfer only when the monetary cost is neither too low nor too high.

Obstructive monitoring

Aaron Finkle and Dongsoo Shin
We consider a principal–agent relationship in which the principal's monitoring can be obstructive to the agent, reducing the agent's productivity. We show that, with obstructive monitoring, the optimal output schedule is distorted in all directions—the high‐cost agent produces less , and the low‐cost agent produces more than the first‐best levels.

Resources and culture in organizations

Suraj Prasad and Marcus Tomaino
We look at how an organization's level of resources interacts with its culture—that is, its shared beliefs and preferences. We consider an organization where workers exert effort to develop projects.

Platform–merchant competition for sales services

Carlotta Mariotto and Marianne Verdier
In this paper, we study whether a monopolistic platform prefers to impose price parity on sellers when the latter may sell directly to consumers.

An economic model of patent exhaustion

Olena Ivus, Edwin L.‐C. Lai, and Ted Sichelman
This paper offers the first economic model of domestic patent exhaustion that incorporates transaction costs in licensing downstream buyers and considers how the shift from absolute to presumptive exhaustion affects social welfare.

Innovation disclosure in times of uncertainty

Mario Daniele Amore
A recent literature shows that many firms feature missing R&D expenses in their accounting statements. This study explores how economic policy uncertainty affects the decision to disclose innovation‐related information.

Competition in the venture capital market and the success of startup companies: Theory and evidence

Suting Hong, Konstantinos Serfes, and Veikko Thiele
We examine the effect of a competitive supply of venture capital (VC) on the exits (initial public offering or mergers and acquisitions) of startups.

Volume 29, Issue 3, Fall 2020

Common ownership, institutional investors, and welfare

Oz Shy and Rune Stenbacka
This study evaluates the effects of institutional investors' common ownership of firms competing in the same market. We conduct a detailed welfare analysis within which the competition‐softening effects of an increased degree of common ownership is weighted against the associated diversification benefits.

Does asymmetric information always help entry deterrence? Can it increase welfare?

Cesaltina Pacheco Pires and Margarida Catalão‐Lopes
This paper compares the scenarios of complete and incomplete information in a general model where the incumbent can make a capital investment to deter entry. We show that the informational structure can make an unexpected difference in terms of entry deterrence and efficiency.

Non‐competes, business dynamism, and concentration: Evidence from a Florida case study

Hyo Kang and Lee Fleming
Most research on non‐competes has focused on employees; here we study how non‐competes affect firm location choice, growth, and consequent regional concentration, using Florida's 1996 legislative change that eased restrictions on their enforcement.

Vertical differentiation, product innovation, and dynamic competition

David P. Baron
This paper presents an infinite horizon dynamic model in which two firms compete in a market vertically differentiated by the qualities of their products and consumers have heterogeneous preferences for quality. Given the product qualities offered, the firms engage in price competition that segments the market.

Use and abuse of regulated prices in electricity markets: How to regulate regulated prices

David Martimort, Jérôme Pouyet, and Carine Staropoli
We consider the regulation of the tariffs charged by a public utility in the electricity sector.

When to haggle, when to hold firm? Lessons from the used‐car retail market

Guofang Huang
Though haggling has been the conventional way for auto retailers to sell cars, the last two decades have witnessed the systematic adoption of no‐haggle prices by many large dealerships, including the largest new‐ and used‐car dealership chains. This paper develops a structural empirical model to estimate sellers' profits under posted price and haggling, and investigates how market conditions affect sellers' optimal pricing formats.

The effects of fuel prices and vehicle sales on fuel‐saving technology adoption in passenger vehicles

Thomas Klier, Joshua Linn, and Yichen C. Zhou
We document a strong connection between a vehicle's sales and its energy efficiency. The results have two implications: manufacturers will continue to focus technological improvements on top selling vehicles; and fuel taxes will have larger effects on technology adoption than fuel economy standards and feebates.

Entry limiting agreements: First‐mover advantage, authorized generics, and pay‐for‐delay deals

Farasat A. S. Bokhari, Franco Mariuzzo, and Arnold Polanski
During patent litigation, pay‐for‐delay (P4D) deals involve a payment from a patent holder of a branded drug to a generic drug manufacturer to delay entry and withdraw the patent challenge. In return for staying out of the market, the generic firm receives a payment, and/or an authorized licensed entry at a later date, but before the patent expiration. We examine why such deals are stable when there are multiple potential entrants.

Hospital performance standards and medical pricing: The impact of information disclosure in cardiac care

Avi Dor, William Encinosa, and Kathleen Carey
A policy concern is that the initiation of Hospital Compare (HC) reporting in Medicare provided leverage to insurers in price negotiations for lowering private sector prices without regard to hospital performance. Using the sequential Nash bargaining framework we provide economic intuition to the contrary: while average hospital prices decline under quality disclosures, hospitals with above‐average quality are able to exert a stronger bargaining position, consequently capturing prices above the market rate.

Volume 29, Issue 2, Summer 2020

Merchants of doubt: Corporate political action when NGO credibility is uncertain

Mireille Chiroleu‐Assouline and Thomas P. Lyon
The literature on special interest groups emphasizes two main influence channels: campaign contributions and informational lobbying. We introduce a third channel: providing information about the credibility of political rivals.

Don't patronize me! An experiment on preferences for authorship

Silvia Lübbecke and Wendelin Schnedler
Do people only reject interference and keep control to affect the outcome? We find that 20% of subjects reject unrequired help and insist on their solution to a problem—although doing so is costly and does not change the result. We tease out the motives by varying the information available to the interfering party (paternalist).

Inefficient incentives and nonprice allocations: Experimental evidence from big‐box restaurants

Sacha Kapoor
Queues are puzzling because they are consistent with wasted profit in equilibrium. Standard rationales trace the puzzle to the pricing of goods. This article uses field experimental evidence from large‐scale restaurants to trace the puzzle to the pricing of labor.

Contests over joint production on networks

Serhat Doğan, Kerim Keskin, and Çağrı Sağlam
We consider a network of heterogeneous agents where each edge represents a two‐player contest between the respective nodes. In these bilateral contests, agents compete over an endogenous prize jointly produced using their own contest efforts. We provide a necessary and sufficient condition for the existence of Nash equilibrium and characterize the equilibrium total effort for every agent.

Strategic shirking in competitive labor markets: A general model of multi‐task promotion tournaments with employer learning

Jed DeVaro and Oliver Gürtler
In a multitask, market‐based promotion tournament model, under different environments concerning employer learning about worker ability, it is shown that: (a) asymmetric learning in multitask jobs is a necessary condition for “strategic shirking” (i.e., underperforming on certain tasks to increase the promotion probability); (b) when learning becomes increasingly symmetric on one task, the effort allocated to that task could increase or decrease, but effort on the other task increases; (c) strategic shirking does not occur in equilibrium in single‐task models; and (d) promotions signal worker ability even when there is symmetric learning on one task, if learning is asymmetric on another.

Self‐managed work teams: An efficiency‐rationale for pay compression

Nana Adrian and Marc Möller
This paper uncovers a novel mechanism through which pay dispersion can have a negative effect on firm performance, even in the absence of equity or fairness considerations.

Hospital competition under pay‐for‐performance: Quality, mortality, and readmissions

Domenico Lisi, Luigi Siciliani, and Odd Rune Straume
Health outcomes, such as mortality and readmission rates, are commonly used as indicators of hospital quality and as a basis to design pay‐for‐performance (P4P) incentive schemes. We propose a model of hospital behavior under P4P where patients differ in severity and can choose hospital based on quality. We assume that risk‐adjustment is not fully accounted for and that unobserved dimensions of severity remain. We show that the introduction of P4P which rewards lower mortality and/or readmission rates can weaken or strengthen hospitals' incentive to provide quality.

Movie release strategy: Theory and evidence from international distribution

Luís Cabral and Gabriel Natividad
Choosing the right time to release a new movie may be the difference between success and failure. Prior research states that the “bigger” a blockbuster is, the more likely it is (and should be) released during a high‐demand week. We present a theoretical framework which is consistent with this observation but adds a rather surprising theoretical prediction: among non‐blockbuster (i.e., niche) movies, everything else constant, the greater a movie's appeal, the more likely it is released during a low‐demand week.

Revealing transactions data to third parties: Implications of privacy regimes for welfare in online markets

Michael R. Baye and David E. M. Sappington
We examine the effects of privacy policies regarding transactions (e.g., price/quantity) data on online shopping platforms. Disclosure of transactions data induces consumer signaling behavior that affects merchant pricing decisions and the welfare of platform participants.

Volume 29, Issue 1, Spring 2020

Vertical structure and the risk of rent extraction in the electricity industry

Anette Boom and Stefan Buehler
This paper studies how competition and vertical structure jointly determine generating capacities, retail prices, and welfare in the electricity industry.

On the corporate use of green bonds

Mark Bagnoli and Susan G. Watts
We show that in less competitive retail markets when retailers can “skim” more of the premium that end consumers pay for socially responsible products, green bonds provide additional funds to help cover the cost of a wholesaler's socially responsible activities.

Asymmetric‐information allocation to avoid coordination failure

Fumitoshi Moriya and Takuro Yamashita
In the context of team production, this paper studies the optimal (deterministic and stochastic) information allocation that implements desired effort levels as the unique Bayesian equilibrium. We show that under certain conditions, it is optimal to asymmetrically inform agents even though they may be ex ante symmetric.

Savings that hurt: Production rationalization and its effect on prices

Mauricio Varela and Madhu Viswanathan
Production rationalization, the process of reallocating production across facilities so as to reduce total costs, results in firms equating marginal costs across markets. This results in marginal costs, and hence prices, being higher in some markets and lower in others than otherwise would be without production rationalization. This paper proposes a model of competition that elicits these effects and the resulting consequences on consumer and producer surplus.

The impact of job training on temporary worker performance: Field experimental evidence from insurance sales agents

Elizabeth Lyons
Using evidence from a field experiment conducted among salespeople in a Kenyan insurance firm, this paper examines the consequences of providing job training for temporary workers. The findings show that providing access to training significantly increases firm revenue, primarily due to performance increases among higher‐ability workers.

Bait and ditch: Consumer naïveté and salesforce incentives

Fabian Herweg and Antonio Rosato
We analyze a model of price competition between a transparent retailer and a deceptive one in a market where a fraction of consumers is naïve.

Can consumer complaints reduce product reliability? Should we worry?

Joaquín Coleff
We analyze a monopolist's pricing and product reliability decision in a model where consumers are entitled to product replacement if the product fails, but have heterogeneous costs of exercising this right. Our main result shows that, under some conditions, a decrease in consumers expected to claim cost leads to a decrease in product reliability but an increase in profit and welfare.

Vertical integration and disruptive cross‐market R&D

Ping Lin, Tianle Zhang, and Wen Zhou
We study how vertical market structure affects the incentives of suppliers and customers to develop a new input that will enable the innovator to replace the incumbent supplier.

Intermediated surge pricing

Sushil Bikhchandani
Although Uber and Lyft are known for their flexible “surge pricing,” they are surprisingly rigid in another way: each firm takes a constant percentage of passenger fare whether or not there is a surge. In this paper, I investigate the possible reasons for, and the impact of, this rigidity.

Volume 28, Issue 4, Winter 2019

The impact of the number of sellers on quantal response equilibrium predictions in Bertrand oligopolies

Ralph‐C. Bayer, Chaohua Dong, and Hang Wu
This paper studies how increasing the number of sellers in a Bertrand oligopoly with homogenous goods affects the equilibrium price level predicted by logistic quantal response equilibrium (LQRE) and power‐function QRE (PQRE).

Automatic‐renewal contracts with heterogeneous consumer inertia

Johannes Johnen
Automatic contract renewals are a common feature in consumer markets. Since these contracts renew automatically unless a consumer actively cancels, firms can use them to exploit consumer inertia. As a source of inertia I study limited attention and investigate how firms use contract renewal to sell to consumers with different degrees of inattention.

Optimal team composition for tool‐based problem solving

Jonathan Bendor and Scott E Page
In this paper, we construct a framework for modeling teams of agents who apply techniques or procedures (tools) to solve problems. In our framework, tools differ in their likelihood of solving the problem at hand; agents, who may be of different types, vary in their skill at using tools. We highlight three main findings: First, that cognitively diverse teams are more likely to solve problems in both settings. Second, that teams consisting of types that master diverse tools have an indirect strategic advantage because tool diversity facilitates coordination. Third, that strategic tool choice creates counterintuitive optimal hiring practices.

Team formation with complementary skills

Mürüvvet Büyükboyaci and Andrea Robbett
One explanation for the prevalence of self‐managed work teams is that they enable workers with complementary skills to specialize in the tasks they do best, a benefit that may be enhanced if workers can sort themselves into teams. To assess this explanation, we design a real‐effort experiment to study the endogenous formation of teams, and its effect on productivity, when specialization either is or is not feasible.

Dynamic incentive effects of assignment mechanisms: Experimental evidence

Thomas Gall, Xiaocheng Hu, and Michael Vlassopoulos
Optimal assignment and matching mechanisms have been the focus of exhaustive analysis. We focus on their dynamic effects, which have received less attention, especially in the empirical literature: Anticipating that assignment is based on prior performance may affect prior performance. We test this hypothesis in a lab experiment.

Trading places: An experimental comparison of reallocation mechanisms for priority queuing

Anouar El Haji Sander Onderstal
In a laboratory experiment, we compare two auction mechanisms that are designed to improve a queue's efficiency by allowing customers to trade places.

Wage delegation in the field

Sabrina Jeworrek and Vanessa Mertins
By conducting a natural field experiment, we analyze the managerial policy of delegating the wage choice to employees. We find that this policy enhances performance significantly, which is remarkable since allocated wage premiums of the same size have no effect at all.

When the principal knows better than the agent: Subjective evaluations as an optimal disclosure mechanism

Mengxi Zhang
When the firm has some private and unverifiable information about an employee’s ability, it can design a subjective evaluation mechanism, whereby payments are tied to evaluations, to communicate such information. In this paper, I investigate how to design an optimal disclosure mechanism for the firm.

Potential competition and quality disclosure

Frederick Dongchuhl Oh and Junghum Park
This study presents a model of quality disclosure in which an incumbent, through its quality and disclosure choices, influences the potential that a new entrant enters the market.