Williamson Seminar on Institutional Analysis: Search, Screening, and Information Provision: Personnel Decisions in an Online Labor Market
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4:10 pm - 6:10 pm

C325 Cheit Hall, Haas School of Business

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The Oliver E. Williamson Seminar on Institutional Analysis features current research of faculty, from UCB and elsewhere, and advanced doctoral students who are investigating the efficacy of economic and noneconomic forms of organization. In this seminar, an interdisciplinary perspective–combining aspects of law, economics and organization–is maintained. Markets, hierarchies, hybrids, bureaus, and the supporting institutions of law and politics all come under scrutiny. The aspiration is to progressively build towards a new science of organization.

The OEW Seminar meets on Thursdays from 4:10 – 6:00 pm in room C325 Cheit Hall. Outside speakers normally meet with interested students from 3:00 – 3:45 pm in the IBI Conference room located in room F402 (in the Faculty Wing of the Haas School).

For faculty and students wishing to schedule an appointment, or for more information on the Oliver E. Williamson Seminar, please contact Sandria Frost at sandria_frost@haas.berkeley.edu.

For more information including past seminar schedules please click here.

Fall 2015 Schedule



Title of Talk/Paper
October 22
Moshe Barach
Search, Screening, and Information Provision: Personnel Decisions in an Online Labor Market [pdf]


Marketplaces such as online labor markets are often in a position to provide agents with public certified information to facilitate trade. I examine how employers on oDesk.com, the world’s largest online marketplace, use public information in hiring. By experimentally varying employers’ access to applicants’ past wage rates, I demonstrate that market provided cheap-to-observe signals of quality are used by employers as substitutes for costly search and screening. I show that when employers are searching for someone low skilled then the provision of coarse information from the market is sufficient and employers will not pay a cost to acquire more information. When employers are looking for someone high skilled theywill pay fixed screening costs to acquire information beyond what is provided by the platform. If the coarse information is not provided by the marketplace, then even employers looking for unskilled labor will pay to acquire more information. This leads to more matches and hiring quality workers at a lower price. However, the cost savings from identifying and hiring these low cost, but high quality workers does not outweigh the upfront cost of information acquisition.