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Auctions and information acquisition: sealed bid or dynamic formats?

  • Olivier Compte
  • Philippe Jehiel

The value of an asset is generally not known a priori, and it requires costly investments to be discovered. In such contexts with endogenous information acquisition, which selling procedure generates more revenues? We show that dynamic formats, such as ascending-price or multistage auctions, perform better than their static counterpart. This is because dynamic formats allow bidders to observe the number of competitors left throughout the selling procedure. Thus, even if competition appears strong ex ante, it may turn out to be weak along the dynamic format, thereby making the option to acquire information valuable. This very possibility also induces the bidders to stay longer in the auction, just to learn about the state of competition. Both effects boost revenues, and our analysis provides a rationale for using dynamic formats rather than sealed-bid ones.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1756-2171.2007.tb00072.x
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Article provided by RAND Corporation in its journal RAND Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 38 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 (06)
Pages: 355-372

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Handle: RePEc:bla:randje:v:38:y:2007:i:2:p:355-372
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  1. Stegeman, Mark, 1996. "Participation Costs and Efficient Auctions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 228-259, October.
  2. Dirk Bergemann & Juuso Valimaki, 2002. "Information Acquisition and Efficient Mechanism Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 1007-1033, May.
  3. Nicola Persico, 2000. "Information Acquisition in Auctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(1), pages 135-148, January.
  4. Levin, Dan & Smith, James L, 1994. "Equilibrium in Auctions with Entry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 585-99, June.
  5. Crémer, Jacques & Khalil, Fahad, 1991. "Gathering Information before Signing a Contract," IDEI Working Papers 5, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  6. Harstad, Ronald M. & Michael H. Rothkopf, 1995. "An "Alternating Recognition" Model of English Auctions," Discussion Paper Serie B 348, University of Bonn, Germany.
  7. Jeremy Bulow & Paul Klemperer, 1994. "Auctions vs. Negotiations," NBER Working Papers 4608, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Paul Milgrom & Robert J. Weber, 1981. "A Theory of Auctions and Competitive Bidding," Discussion Papers 447R, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  9. Milgrom, Paul R, 1981. "Rational Expectations, Information Acquisition, and Competitive Bidding," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 921-43, June.
  10. Richard L. Fullerton & R. Preston McAfee, 1999. "Auctioning Entry into Tournaments," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(3), pages 573-605, June.
  11. Athey, Susan, 2001. "Single Crossing Properties and the Existence of Pure Strategy Equilibria in Games of Incomplete Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(4), pages 861-89, July.
  12. Harstad, Ronald M, 1990. "Alternative Common-Value Auction Procedures: Revenue Comparisons with Free Entry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(2), pages 421-29, April.
  13. Engelbrecht-Wiggans, Richard, 2001. "The effect of entry and information costs on oral versus sealed-bid auctions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 195-202, February.
  14. Compte, Olivier & Jehiel, Philippe, 2008. "Gathering information before signing a contract: A screening perspective," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 206-212, January.
  15. McAfee, R. Preston & McMillan, John, 1987. "Auctions with entry," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 343-347.
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