This study provides the first attempt to study the emerging online peer-to-peer (P2P) barter markets, in which individuals trade goods or services without the use of money. Using detailed transaction data from a leading P2P barter marketplace for books, we examine how the norm of reciprocity affects transaction outcomes. We find that although the barter marketplace is designed under the norm of indirect reciprocity, market participants also exhibit a strong preference towards direct reciprocity. We further find that both indirect reciprocity and direct reciprocity affect transactions, but in different ways. While both forms of reciprocity help improve the probability of success of a transaction, only direct reciprocity helps facilitate the fulfillment speed of a transaction. We also provide evidence that direct reciprocity is favored for exchanging rare goods. We discuss the implication of our findings for the design of P2P barter marketplaces.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/siva_viswanathan/1/