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Optimal Design of Research Contests

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  • Yeon-Koo Che
  • Ian Gale

Abstract

Procurement of an innovation often requires substantial effort by potential suppliers. Motivating effort may be difficult if the level of effort and quality of the resulting innovation are unverifiable, if innovators cannot benefit directly by marketing their innovations, and if the buyer cannot extract up-front payments from suppliers. We study the use of contests to procure an innovation in such an environment. An auction in which two suppliers are invited to innovate and then bid their prizes is optimal in a large class of contests. If contestants are asymmetric, it is optimal to handicap the most efficient one.

Suggested Citation

  • Yeon-Koo Che & Ian Gale, 2003. "Optimal Design of Research Contests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 646-671, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:93:y:2003:i:3:p:646-671
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282803322157025
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. French, Kenneth R & McCormick, Robert E, 1984. "Sealed Bids, Sunk Costs, and the Process of Competition," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57(4), pages 417-441, October.
    2. Baye, Michael R & Kovenock, Dan & de Vries, Casper G, 1993. "Rigging the Lobbying Process: An Application of the All-Pay Auction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 289-294, March.
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    6. Yeon-Koo Che & Ian Gale, 2003. "Optimal Design of Research Contests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 646-671, June.
    7. Philippe Aghion & Patrick Bolton, 1992. "An Incomplete Contracts Approach to Financial Contracting," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(3), pages 473-494.
    8. Yeon-Koo Che, 1993. "Design Competition through Multidimensional Auctions," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(4), pages 668-680, Winter.
    9. Bag, Parimal Kanti, 1997. "Optimal auction design and R&D," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(9), pages 1655-1674, December.
    10. Donald B. Hausch & Yeon-Koo Che, 1999. "Cooperative Investments and the Value of Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 125-147, March.
    11. Dirk Bergemann & Juuso Valimaki, 2002. "Information Acquisition and Efficient Mechanism Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 1007-1033, May.
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