Roles for Electronic Brokers

Resnick, Paul, Zeckhauser, Richard and Avery, Chris, "Roles for Electronic Brokers," in Toward a Competitive Telecommunication Industry: Selected Papers from the 1994 Telecommunications Policy Research Conference, G. W. Brock, Ed. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1995, pp. 289-304.


Even when people have direct electronic connections to each other, intermediaries, or electronic brokers, can play an important role. For example, brokers can help consumers search for desired products, perform name translation to protect privacy, and conduct auctions with unbalanced budgets in order to promote efficient outcomes. We first illustrate these possibilities with a concrete example, a service that collects product evaluations from some people and uses them to help other people select products. We discuss issues of privacy, censorship, and incentives for participation that arise in such a shared evaluation service. We then argue that the provision of electronic brokering services in general should be decoupled from information provision rather than vertically integrated.