Ulric B. and Evelyn L. Bray Social Sciences Seminar
Abstract: We study collaborative work in pairs. Each individual draws an idea from a distribution that depends on unobserved ability. Potential collaborators choose to combine their ideas, or work separately. They are motivated not just by intrinsic project value, but also signaling payoffs, which depend on public assessments of individual ability. In equilibrium, collaboration strategies both justify and are justified by those assessments. When partners are symmetric, equilibria with symmetric collaborative strategies are often fragile, in a sense made precise in the paper. In such cases, the public ascribes higher credit to one of the partners based on payoff-irrelevant "identities." In asymmetric equilibria, favored identities receive a higher payoff conditional on collaborating, but may receive lower overall expected payoff relative to their disfavored counterparts, Furthermore, individuals of the disfavored identity are ex-post more likely to achieve extreme reputations. Finally, we study a simple policy based on certified random order that Pareto-improves the equilibria of our model.
Co-authored with Debraj Ray.
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