We study the incentives that agents have to invest in costly protection against cascading failures in networked systems. Applications include vaccination, computer security and airport security. Agents are connected through a network and can fail either intrinsically or as a result of the failure of a subset of their neighbors. We characterize the equilibrium based on an agent’s failure probability and derive conditions under which equilibrium strategies are monotone in degree (i.e. in how connected an agent is on the network). We show that different kinds of applications (e.g. vaccination, airport security) lead to very different equilibrium patterns of investments in protection, with important welfare and risk implications. Our equilibrium concept is flexible enough to allow for comparative statics in terms of network properties and we show that it is also robust to the introduction of global externalities (e.g. price feedback, congestion).
Problem definition: Contrary to classic applications of matching theory, in most contemporary on-demand service platforms, matches can not be enforced because workers are flexible – they choose their tasks. Such flexibility makes it difficult to manage workers while keeping customers satisfied. We build a framework to compare platform matching policies with less flexible and more flexible workers, and empirically quantify by how much worker flexibility hurts customer satisfaction and customer equity.
Academic/Practical relevance: In academic literature, there is no established framework that allows for the comparison of matching policies in on-demand platforms. Further, the link between worker flexibility and customer satisfaction is understudied.
Methodology: We propose a tripartite framework for empirical evaluation and comparison of the operational policies with different degrees of worker flexibility. Step 1: Predictive modeling of customer satisfaction based on estimation of individual unobservable characteristics: customer difficulty and worker ability (item-response theory model). Step 2: Evaluation of the effect of matching policy (under a given level of flexibility) on customer satisfaction (bipartite matching). Step 3: Quantification of the associated monetary impact (customer lifetime value model).
Results: We apply our framework to the dataset of one of the world's largest on-demand platforms for residential cleanings. We find that customer difficulty and cleaner ability are good predictors of customer satisfaction. Granting full flexibility to workers reduces customer satisfaction by 3% and customer lifetime revenue by 0.2%. We propose a family of matching policies that provide sufficient flexibility to workers, while alleviating 75% of the detrimental effect of worker flexibility on customer satisfaction.
Managerial implications: Our results suggest that, in platforms with flexible workforce, the presence of worker and customer heterogeneity translates into matching inefficiency – the drop in customer satisfaction. Our empirical framework helps practitioners to decide on the right level of worker flexibility and the means for achieving it.
Sociological trends have led to consumer's increasing willingness to purchase goods whose value lies partly in the exclusivity of their ownership. Firms selling these goods face a trade-off--while producing more allows for extracting more revenues, it also may compromise the product's reputation for exclusivity. In this study, we develop a dynamic game-theoretic model of reputations--a repeated game with long-lived, short-lived players, incomplete information, adverse selection, Bayesian updating of reputations and strategic memory. Our findings suggest a radical departure from the recommendations of the existing literature. Unlike the over-production equilibrium that is widely touted in the existing literature, our more realistic dynamic model suggests that in equilibrium the firm follows a non-stationary cyclic strategy that alternates scarcity phases with the overproduction phases. While the former is used as an exclusivity reputation building mechanism, the latter represents a reputation exploitation phase.