Service Business

, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 1–15 | Cite as

The economics of professional services: lemon markets, credence goods, and C2C information sharing

  • Diego d’Andria
Theoretical Article


We discuss how professional service markets are plagued by asymmetric information, by looking jointly at the literature stemming from the seminal work of Akerlof on the “market of lemons”, and at the definition of “credence good” which has been developed especially within the field of health economics. Since consumers cannot evaluate ex post the quality of purchased professional services when these are “credence goods”, they cannot rely with 100 % confidence on other consumers’ and experts’ signals about service providers’ quality. Hence, questions arise on the effectiveness of traditional market features highlighted in literature as market-enhancing when information asymmetry is an issue, namely: advertising, certification, reputation, and liability. Our analysis specifically focuses on consumer-provided knowledge by looking at recent development of Web-based rating and reviewing services. Results point to the fact that consumers in the U.S. heavily rely on such services, and they do so roughly in proportion to their consumption of each professional sector. Therefore, future research on professional services should include a “C2C search technology” when modeling consumer behaviors that allows to define how much each professional service is to be considered as pure or hybrid “credence good.”


Professional services Credence goods Web-based ratings 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and BusinessLUISS Guido Carli University of RomeRomeItaly

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