Research

Most of my research aims to understand how economic agents strategically influence decisions of other agents, how these activities are affected by competition, and how the environment in which these activities take place should be designed. There are two ways to influence decisions. On one hand, influence can provide incentives — for example when an explicit payment makes one alternative more attractive than others. On the other hand, influence can change beliefs — for example when after receiving advice one alternative seems more appropriate than others.

Influence activities encompass a wide range of applications that are of substantial economic importance. In previous research I have contributed to answer a variety of questions, including:

  • Overtreatment and rising health care costs — How should payments to physicians be designed in order to provide incentives to make an appropriate diagnosis?
  • Selective reporting of clinical trial results — How should the environment in which pharmaceutical companies undertake clinical trials be designed in order to improve clinical knowledge?
  • Campaign finance reform — What are the implications of the fact that interest groups provide both contributions and policy advice to politicians?
  • Social acceptance of affirmative action policies — Given that some affirmative action policies lack social acceptance because they are thought to weaken competition, are there affirmative action policies that actually strengthen competition?

On this web site I organize my research broadly in three categories. First, influence plays an important role in industrial & health economics — for example in procurement auctions, when firms decide whether to reveal information about product risk, or in the interaction between a physician and his patient. Second, influence is an important determinant in public & political economics — for example when interest groups lobby politicians or members of a legislature vote over some proposal. Third, many economic, political and social environments can be characterized as situations in which agents compete by investing costly resources in order to influence their prospects of winning some prize. Examples include lobbying, litigation, political campaigns, military conflict, patent races, arms races, sports events, promotional competition, labour market tournaments or R&D competition. The systematic analysis of competition under these conditions has become known as contest theory.

Under the research item in the menu above you find my research papers organized by these three fields. (Notice that papers might appear in several fields. For a list of publications without double count click the publications item or look at my CV.) For recent unpublished papers click on unpublished in the menu above. You can also search a list of keywords that are linked to my papers.