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B02: Strategic information disclosure

We shed light on the economic forces shaping the strategic disclosure of information and, in particular, its dynamics. We analyze the optimal timing and composition of the information disclosed by strategic agents and the inefficiencies that withheld infor mation and delayed disclosure involve. The ultimate aim is to determine regulatory
interventions and the design of the institutional environment that minimize the welfare loss arising from strategic disclosure. Applications include firms releasing information to financial markets or sending advertisements to consumers, and news agencies dis seminating biased news.

 

Project Members

 

Discussion papers (B02)

 

Motivation

Modern societies are now in the middle of a so-called "information revolution". While globalization/digitalization generates a large flow of data, this information is not available or interpretable for many agents, who hence have to rely on a pre selection of information, which typically involves strategic senders. Availability of individual-level information "big data" allows firms and political campaigners to finely target communication to certain audiences, and to tailor the provided information to the preferences of individual consumers or voters. The increasing number of patents in firms’ portfolios blurs the identification of relevant pieces of intellectual property in developing a new technology, making patent disclosure a strategic decision.  

Policy relevance

Strategic use of big data for targeted communication raises privacy as an important consumer protection issue. The strategic component in disclosed information may be difficult to identify for consumers, triggering manipulation and warranting regulatory intervention. Strategic disclosure of patents affects incentives to invest in innovation, providing a new perspective in the debate on patent system design. Information disclosed to financial markets impacts asset prices and, thus, affects financial stability. Regulators themselves often rely on strategically disclosed information with implications for market regulation.  

Project plan

Work package 1 - Dynamic disclosure without commitment  

  • In many settings, strategic senders decide on the content and timing of information disclosure, with applications ranging from broadcasting by (biased) news agencies to firms’ information policy in financial and product markets. 
  • We analyze how dynamic information arrival, the need to acquire information and the presence of deadlines influence the optimal disclosure strategy. In trade settings, the interaction with dynamic pricing and the conditions for Coasian dynamics in information disclosure will be of particular interest.
  • We study the effects of sender competition and whether competition policy can substitute for or complement alternative policy tools directly targeting information collection and disclosure. 
  • In financial markets, we study the dynamic disclosure of (asset) price-relevant information by firms or regulators.  

Work package 2 - Sustainability of communication in collaboration

  • Patent disclosure can spur a project’s development by releasing technical information or raise the concern that the project’s value is expropriated by patent holders.  
  • We develop a dynamic model of innovation as a collaborative exchange of ideas under the threat that a party holds a "secret" patent.  
  • We test the impact of patent disclosure in R&D using a unique dataset with project version-level information on content and timing of patents’ disclosure in the IETF the organization of many key technologies of the internet.  
  • We use text-based analysis to study whether disclosed patents add information or authors design the project around the patent to avoid infringement. We relate our results to projects’ technological area and the composition of teams of authors.

Work package 3 - Incentives for preference disclosure  

  • Sellers or information intermediaries systematically collect individual-level data. We study consumers’ incentives to interfere in firms’ information acquisition by strategically disclosing preference information prior to trade.  
  • We analyze the trade-off between revealing information to get personalized services (or well-fitting products) and being less transparent to avoid being \held up", allowing for two-sided private information, competing sellers and alternative forms of information transmission.  
  • In light of the growing importance of digital platforms, we analyze the role of information intermediaries for market outcomes.  
  • We evaluate implications of consumer protection policies restricting firms’ information acquisition, such as privacy regulation.  

 

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