Brian McManus

Department of Economics CB 3305
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

April 2014Market Structure, Reputation, and the Value of Quality Certification
with Daniel Elfenbein, Raymond Fisman: w20074
Quality certification programs help consumers to identify high-quality products or sellers in markets with information asymmetries. Using data from eBay UK's online marketplace, we study how certification's impact on consumer demand varies with market- and seller-level attributes, exploiting quasi-experimental variation in sellers' certification status. The positive effects of eBay's "top rated seller" certification are stronger for categories with relatively few other certified sellers, in more competitive markets, and for sellers with shorter records of past performance. These findings indicate certification provides its greatest value when certification is rare, the product space is crowded, and for sellers lacking established reputations.

Published: Daniel W. Elfenbein & Raymond Fisman & Brian McManus, 2015. "Market Structure, Reputation, and the Value of Quality Certification," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 83-108, November. citation courtesy of

December 2009Reputation, Altruism, and the Benefits of Seller Charity in an Online Marketplace
with Daniel Elfenbein, Raymond Fisman: w15614
We investigate the impact of charity tie-ins on transaction probabilities and sale prices using a large database of eBay auctions. We examine "natural experiments" of precisely matched clusters of charity and non-charity auctions with identical titles, subtitles, sellers, and start prices. We find a 6 to 14 percentage point increase in sale probability and a 2 to 6 percent greater maximum bid for charity items, depending on the fraction of auction proceeds that is donated to charity. The impact on sale probability and price is most pronounced among sellers without extensive eBay histories, suggesting that consumers view charity as a signal of seller quality and a substitute for reputation. We also find that charity-tied products by all sellers are more likely to sell (and at higher pri...

Published: Charity as a substitute for reputation: Evidence from an online marketplace (with Daniel Elfenbein and Brian McManus), Review of Economic Studies, 2012.

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