The economics models of reputation and quality in markets can be classified in three categories. (i) Pure hidden action, where only one type of seller is present who can provide goods of different quality. (ii) Pure hidden information, where sellers of different types have no control over product quality. (iii) Mixed frameworks, which include both hidden action and hidden information. In this paper we develop a pure hidden action model of reputation and Bertrand competition, where consumers and firms interact repeatedly in a market with free entry. The price of the good produced by the firms is contractible, whilst the quality is noncontractible, hence it is promised by the firms when a contract is signed. Consumers infer future quality from all available information, i.e., both from what they know about past quality and from current prices. According to early contributions, competition should make reputation unable to induce the production of high-quality goods. We provide a simple solution to this problem by showing that high quality levels are sustained as an outcome of a stationary symmetric equilibrium.
- Hidden action