Econometric Analysis of Pricing and Operational Strategies
This dissertation contains three essays. The first essay, entitled "Pricing and Production Flexibility: An Empirical Analysis of the U.S. Automotive Industry," uses a detailed dataset of the U.S. auto industry to examine the relationship between production flexibility and responsive pricing. Our analysis shows that deploying production flexibility is associated with a reduction in observed discounts and with an increase in plant utilization. Our results allow quantifying some of the benefits of production flexibility. The second essay, entitled "An Empirical Analysis of Reputation in Online Service Marketplaces," uses a detailed dataset from a leading online intermediary for software development services to empirically examine the role of reputation on choices and prices in service marketplaces. We find that buyers trade off reputation and price and are willing to accept higher bids posted by more reputable bidders. Sellers primarily use a superior reputation to increase their probability of being selected, as opposed to increasing their prices. Our analysis shows that the numerical reputation score has a smaller effect in situations where there exists a previous relationship between buyer and seller, when the seller has certified his or her skills, when the seller is local, or in situations that prompt higher interpersonal trust. The third essay, entitled "The Effects of Product Line Breadth: Evidence from the Automotive Industry," studies the effects of product line breadth on market shares and costs, using data from the U.S. automotive industry. Our results show a positive association between product line breadth and market share and production costs. Beyond the effects on production costs, we study the effect of product line breadth on mismatch costs, which arise from demand uncertainty, and we find that product line breadth has a substantial impact on average discounts and inventories. Our results also show that platform strategies can reduce production costs and that a broader product line can provide a hedge against changes in demand conditions.