Information Signal Design for Incentivizing Team Formation


We study the use of Bayesian persuasion (i.e., strategic use of information disclosure/signaling) in endogenous team formation. This is an important consideration in settings such as crowdsourcing competitions, open science challenges and group-based assignments, where a large number of agents organize themselves into small teams which then compete against each other. A central tension here is between the strategic interests of agents who want to have the highest-performing team, and that of the principal who wants teams to be balanced. Moreover, although the principal cannot choose the teams or modify rewards, she often has additional knowledge of agents' abilities, and can leverage this information asymmetry to provide signals that influence team formation. Our work uncovers the critical role of self-awareness (i.e., knowledge of one’s own abilities) for the design of such mechanisms. For settings with two-member teams and binary-valued agents partitioned into a constant number of prior classes, we provide signaling mechanisms which are asymptotically optimal when agents are agnostic of their own abilities. On the other hand, when agents are self-aware, then we show that there is no signaling mechanism that can do better than not releasing information, while satisfying agent participation constraints.

Extended abstract in 14th Conference on Web and Internet Economics (WINE'18)