Thursday, January 5, 2017

Information asymmetry

The playing field is not level; there are asymmetries all around.  Life is not fair, etc

The news, if it is news, is how asymmetry has crept into the project office or project management generally
  •  Not an efficient environment, meaning everyone does not have all the same information to make decisions. Some have access to 'big data' results; others do not
  • Price does not reflect marginal cost, meaning that project labor, at least, doesn't reflect a broad market cost for the next unit of labor; rather, labor is often paid a premium wage, justified as an investment in quality
  • Deals are blocked because of information asymmetry; opportunities go unfulfilled
  • Risks are assumed where risks may not exist, thus putting one project office in a disadvantage compared another PMO with a better handle on the situation. Why? Lack of credible information. Some have it; some do not.
  • Advertising ... sometimes called "signaling" --  distorts value, or redirects it.  A PMP, college degree, or other certification may create value for the certificate holder, but does it create value for the employer?
    Perhaps. But, there's a value-asymmetry at work. How many worthless, or more kindly worth-less-to-the-employer, PMPs are there who have the certificate, etc and thereby command the premium?
Some of the theory on this goes back to the work of George Akerlof, Michael Spence, and Joseph E. Stiglitz for their "analyses of markets with asymmetric information" for which they jointly won a Nobel Prize.

George Akerlof also wrote a book, "The Market for Lemons", in which he applied the 1970 used car market as example of the application of asymmetric information and the value distortions therefrom. Nobel prize. Anyone who has bought a used car understands this asymmetry between buyer and seller .... lemon or not? Only the buyer knows

And then, to layer on some more stuff, we have these:
  • Regulatory and statutory limitations on information sharing
  • Moral hazards (distortion of incentives or rewards)
  • Behavior ... are interests aligned? How can you even tell if information is asymmetric and the relationship is not efficient?
For more on this, check out this essay in Wikipedia: Principal-agent relationships -- construction industry

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