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Auctions Versus Negotiations in Procurement: An Empirical Analysis

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  • Steven Tadelis

Abstract

Should the buyer of a customized good use competitive bidding or negotiation to select a contractor? To shed light on this question, we consider several possible determinants that may influence the choice of auctions versus negotiations. We then examine a comprehensive data set of private sector building contracts awarded in Northern California during the years 1995--2000. The analysis suggests a number of possible limitations to the use of auctions. Auctions may perform poorly when projects are complex, contractual design is incomplete, and there are few available bidders. Furthermore, auctions may stifle communication between buyers and sellers, preventing the buyer from utilizing the contractor's expertise when designing the project. Some implications of these results for procurement in the public sector are discussed (JEL D23, D82, H57, L14, L22, L74). The Author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Yale University. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization.

Volume (Year): 25 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (October)
Pages: 372-399

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Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:25:y:2009:i:2:p:372-399

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  1. Robert H. Porter, 1992. "The Role of Information in U.S. Offshore Oil and Gas Lease Auctions," Discussion Papers 1008, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  2. Daniel A. Ackerberg & Maristella Botticini, 2002. "Endogenous Matching and the Empirical Determinants of Contract Form," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(3), pages 564-591, June.
  3. Alejandro M. Manelli & Daniel R. Vincent, 1992. "Optimal Procurement Mechanisms," Discussion Papers 999, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  4. Milgrom, Paul & Shannon, Chris, 1994. "Monotone Comparative Statics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(1), pages 157-80, January.
  5. Patrick Bajari & Lixin Ye, 2001. "Competition Versus Collusion in Procurement Auctions: Identification and Testing," Working Papers 01001, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  6. Chamberlain, Gary, 1980. "Analysis of Covariance with Qualitative Data," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 225-38, January.
  7. Bajari, Patrick & Tadelis, Steven, 2001. "Incentives versus Transaction Costs: A Theory of Procurement Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(3), pages 387-407, Autumn.
  8. McAfee, R Preston & McMillan, John, 1987. "Auctions and Bidding," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 699-738, June.
  9. William P. Rogerson, 1994. "Economic Incentives and the Defense Procurement Process," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 65-90, Fall.
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