Research

Primary fields:       microeconomic theory, game theory, information economics.
Secondary fields:   organizational economics.

Working papers:

  • Cheap Talk with Transparent Motives (with Doron Ravid)

    We study a model of cheap talk with one substantive assumption: the sender’s preferences are state-independent. We observe that this setting is amenable to the belief-based approach familiar from models of persuasion with commitment. Using this approach, we examine the possibility of valuable communication, assess the value of commitment, and explicitly solve for sender-optimal equilibria in a large class of examples. A key product is a geometric characterization of the value of cheap talk, described by the quasiconcave envelope of the sender’s indirect utility.

  • Repeated Delegation (with João Ramos)

    In an ongoing relationship of delegated decision making, a principal consults a biased agent to assess projects’ returns. In equilibrium, the principal allows future bad projects to reward fiscal restraint, but cannot commit to indefinite rewards. We characterize equilibrium payoffs (at fixed discounting), showing that Pareto optimal equilibria are implemented via a two-regime `Dynamic Capital Budget’. Rather than facing backloaded rewards—as in dynamic agency models with commitment power—the agent loses autonomy as time progresses. This transition toward conservatism echoes the life cycle of an organization: as it matures, it generates lower revenue at a higher yield.

  • Disclosure to a Psychological Audience (with Laurent Mathevet)

    We study how a benevolent expert should disclose information to an agent with psychological concerns. We first provide a method to compute an optimal information policy for many psychological traits. The method suggests, for instance, that an agent suffering from temptation à la Gul & Pesendorfer (2001) should not know what he is missing, thereby explaining observed biases as an optimal reaction to costly self-control. We also show that simply recommending actions is optimal when the agent is intrinsically averse to information but has instrumental uses for it. This result, which circumvents the failure of the Revelation Principle in psychological environments, simplifies disclosure and informs the debate regarding mandated disclosure.

  • Job Insecurity (with Aditya Kuvalekar)

    We examine the relationship between job security and productivity, in a fixed wage worker-firm relationship facing match quality uncertainty. The worker chooses effort, affecting both learning and current productivity. The firm, seeing worker effort and outcomes, makes a firing decision. As bad news accrues, the firm cannot commit to retain the worker. This creates perverse incentives: the worker strategically slows learning, harming productivity. We fully characterize the unique equilibrium in our continuous time game. Consistent with evidence in organizational psychology, the relationship between job insecurity and productivity is U-shaped: a worker is least productive when his job is moderately secure.

  • Peer-Confirming Equilibrium (with Evan Sadler)

    We can often predict the behavior of those closest to us more accurately than that of complete strangers, yet we routinely engage in strategic situations with both: our social network impacts our strategic knowledge. Peer-confirming equilibrium describes the behavioral consequences of this intuition in a noncooperative game. We augment a game with a network to represent strategic information: if two players are linked in the network, they have correct conjectures about each others’ strategies. In peer-confirming equilibrium, there is common belief that players (i) behave rationally and (ii) correctly anticipate neighbors’ play. In simultaneous-move games, adding links to the network always restricts the set of outcomes. In dynamic games, the outcome set may vary non-monotonically with the network because the actions of well-connected players help poorly-connected players coordinate. This solution concept provides a useful language for studying public good provision, highlights a new channel through which central individuals facilitate coordination, and delineates possible sources of miscoordination in protests and coups.

  • Simplifying Bayesian Persuasion (with Laurent Mathevet)

    In Bayesian Persuasion (Kamenica and Gentzkow (2011)), the sender’s optimal value is characterized by a concave envelope. Since concavification of a general function is notoriously difficult, we propose a method to reduce the problem, using the underlying economic structure of the indirect expected utility. The key observation is that one can find, using the receiver’s preferences alone, a small set of posterior beliefs on which some optimal information policy must be supported. This simplifies, sometimes dramatically, the search for optimal information.

Work in progress: