Dynamic models of reputation and competition in job-market matching

Jon Kleinberg, Sigal Oren

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


A fundamental decision faced by a firm hiring employees - and a familiar one to anyone who has dealt with the academic job market, for example - is deciding what caliber of candidates to pursue. Should the firm try to increase its reputation by making offers to higher-quality candidates, despite the risk that the candidates might reject the offers and leave the firm empty-handed? Or is it better to play it safe and go for weaker candidates who are more likely to accept the offer? The question acquires an added level of complexity once we take into account the effect one hiring cycle has on the next: hiring better employees in the current cycle increases the firm's reputation, which in turn increases its attractiveness for higher-quality candidates in the next hiring cycle. These considerations introduce an interesting tempo- ral dynamic aspect to the rich line of research on matching models for job markets, in which long-range planning and evolving reputational effects enter into the strategic decisions made by competing firms. The full set of ingredients in such recruiting decisions is complex, and this has made it difficult to model the fundamental strategic tension at the core of the problem. Here we develop a model based on two competing firms to try capturing as cleanly as possible the elements that we believe constitute this strategic tension: the trade-off between short-term recruiting success and long-range reputation-building; the inefficiency that results from underemployment of people who are not ranked highest; and the inuence of earlier accidental outcomes on long-term reputations. Our model exhibits all these phenomena in a stylized set- ting, governed by a parameter q that captures the difference in strength between the top candidate in each hiring cycle and the next best. Building on an economic model of competition between parties of unequal strength, we show that when q is relatively low, the efficiency of the job market is improved by long-range reputational effects, but when q is relatively high, taking future reputations into account can sometimes reduce the efficiency. While this trade-off arises naturally in the model, the multi-period nature of the strategic reasoning it induces adds new sources of complexity, and our analysis reveals interesting connections between competition with evolving reputations and the dynamics of urn processes.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationITCS 2015 - Proceedings of the 6th Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450333337
StatePublished - 11 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes
Event6th Conference on Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science, ITCS 2015 - Rehovot, Israel
Duration: 11 Jan 201513 Jan 2015


Conference6th Conference on Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science, ITCS 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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