Market uncertainty and socially embedded reputation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Both economists and sociologists generally recognize the importance of reputation in coordinating economic transactions. In a perfectly competitive and anonymous market characterized by faceless buyers and sellers, the issue of reputation would be irrelevant and unnecessary. In reality, however, markets are often filled with varying degrees of information asymmetry, which can threaten the very existence of the market system itself. In critical reaction to the standard neoclassical model, some economists, on the one hand, argue that when there is an information problem, reputation serves as a valuable source of market signal of quality. Sociologists of economic life similarly contend that reputation, along with trust, is critical in lowering transaction costs and thereby facilitating various economic activities among individual actors. The purpose of this article is to apply this broad theoretical observation to a specific empirical phenomenon. It does so by highlighting the role of social networks that connect actors on both demand and supply sides of the market. Specifically, this study examines how interpersonal networks in the market for legal services affect the duration of ties between buyers and sellers. Quantitative analysis based on a random sample of Chicago lawyers, a project funded by the American Bar Foundation, reveals that ceteris paribus the lawyer-client relations are significantly driven by social network factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)679-701
Number of pages23
JournalAmerican Journal of Economics and Sociology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2009


Dive into the research topics of 'Market uncertainty and socially embedded reputation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this