Research

I study n-player games of information, contests and tournaments, and cooperation vs. competition. I especially enjoy solving discrete optimization or combinatorial puzzles.

Job Market Paper

  • A Theory of Pretense in Public Goods Provision (sole author, 2017) [PDF]

Abstract: A player decides to help, bystand, or pretend to help in providing a public good in two games: the volunteer’s dilemma and the public goods game. Pretending does not contribute, but it costs less than helping and can confer prestige. If actual contribution is less than claimed contribution, some claimants may be doubted as fakes and shamed. When pretense is possible, both the individual’s chance to help and the expected level of good provision are weakly less than when pretense is not possible. Whether pretense occurs does not depend on group size. Pretenders dilute the prestige from helping and discourage actual helpers. If pretense causes negative externalities, society would actually benefit from anonymizing contributors. Introducing authenticated help at a premium can eliminate pretense. Extensions on asymmetry and incomplete information reveal that equilibria can exist where help, bystand, and pretend are all played.

Keywords: pretense, volunteer’s dilemma, public goods game, information, signaling, social image, altruism
JEL Classifications: D71, D74, D83, H41

Working Papers

  • Can Limited Information Improve Cascades? (sole author, 2015)

Abstract: N players in an information cascade receive independent signals on which of two restaurants is better. The signals are accurate with probability p, and the objective is to maximize the number of players who choose the better restaurant. I “blind” the first k players such that those players can observe their own private signal, but not the signal or choice of previous players. I prove that no blindness (k = 0) performs strictly better than full blindness (k = n), but that partial blindness (0 < k < n) performs best at some optimal k*(n,p). This suggests that reviews are best when some critics independently review first before allowing the general public to follow trends.

  • Geometric Visualization of Revenue Equivalence (sole author, 2014)

Abstract: I provide geometric visualizations of revenue equivalence between first-price, second-price, and all-pay auctions for two players with uniformly-distributed private values using linear bidding strategies. I then revisit the same three auctions under discrete values and provide summation formulas as approximations. I show that first-price generates more revenue than second-price, but less than all-pay for all finite bid increments. As these increments shrink toward zero, the expected revenues of all three converge to the continuous limit.

Works in Progress

  • An Experiment on Pretense in Public Goods Provision (sole author)
  • Entry Deterrence via Information Timing (sole author)
  • Optimal Composition in Generalized Stackelberg (sole author)