Business-to-Business Information Sharing and the Foundations of Reputational Motives for Contract Compliance

When does it make sense for a business that has gained private information about a supplier or customer to share that information, and with whom? This project aims to answer this question in the context of Nigerian traders.

Models of reputation and collective enforcement are predicated on a relatively unexamined premise: that agents will share information about infractions. When does it make sense for a business that has gained private information about a supplier or customer to share that information, and with whom? The question is key for understanding in what contexts public reputations are likely to arise and to what extent this force can substitute for formal contract enforcement.

Building on existing work in the area, which resulted in two rounds of the Lagos Trader Survey, the researchers wish to perform a third round of the survey, serving as baseline for a future RCT. Their ultimate objective is to help build and evaluate a business-to-business review platform to be used by traders in Lagos, Nigeria, randomizing aspects of disclosure through the platform to test how strategic considerations determine the extent and content of information sharing.

Identifying and measuring obstacles to the formation of public reputations and information sharing among traders may inform both private- or public-sector development of tools that enable reputation mechanisms to be operative in supporting business-to-business transactions. Moreover, Lagos has a vibrant start-up scene, a few components of which have already displayed interest in the topic, both from the perspective of potential business opportunities and to inform the design of some services. Finally, the additional round of the survey will contribute to creating data and data infrastructure that is expected to be beneficial to many researchers, beyond the scope of this project.