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The impact of public information on bidding in highway procurement auctions

  • De Silva, Dakshina G.
  • Dunne, Timothy
  • Kankanamge, Anuruddha
  • Kosmopoulou, Georgia

A number of papers in the theoretical auction literature show that the release of information regarding the seller’s valuation of an item can cause bidders to bid more aggressively. This widely accepted result in auction theory remains largely untested in the empirical literature. Recent theoretical work has also shown that this effect can be more pronounced in auctions with larger common cost uncertainty. We examine the impact of a policy change by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation that led to the release of the state’s internal estimate of the costs to complete highway construction projects. We perform a differences-in-differences analysis comparing bidding in Texas, a state that had a uniform policy of revealing the same information all throughout the period of analysis, to bidding in Oklahoma. Our results show that, in comparison to Texas auctions, the average bid in Oklahoma fell after the change in engineers’ cost estimate (ECE) policy. This decline in bids was even larger for projects where the common uncertainty in costs is greater. Moreover, the within-auction standard deviation of bids fell after the change in ECE policy with the most significant decline observed again in projects with greater common cost uncertainty.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 52 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 150-181

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Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:52:y:2008:i:1:p:150-181
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  1. Vincent Daniel R., 1995. "Bidding Off the Wall: Why Reserve Prices May Be Kept Secret," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 575-584, April.
  2. Dakshina G. De Silva & Timothy Dunne & Georgia Kosmopoulou, 2003. "An Empirical Analysis of Entrant and Incumbent Bidding in Road Construction Auctions," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 295-316, 09.
  3. Jacob K. Goeree & Theo Offerman, 2003. "Competitive Bidding in Auctions with Private and Common Values," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(489), pages 598-613, 07.
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  5. Patrick Bajari & Lixin Ye, 2001. "Deciding Between Competition and Collusion," Working Papers 01008, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  6. Jofre-Bonet, Mireia & Pesendorfer, Martin, 2000. "Bidding behavior in a repeated procurement auction: A summary," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 1006-1020, May.
  7. 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.
  8. Paul Klemperer, 1997. "Auctions with Almost Common Values: The Wallet Game and its Applications," Economics Series Working Papers 1998-W03, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  9. Paul R. Milgrom, 1985. "Auction Theory," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 779, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  10. Susan Athey & Jonathan Levin, 1999. "Information and Competition in U.S. Forest Service Timber Auctions," Working papers 99-12, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  11. Han Hong & Matthew Shum, 2001. "Increasing Competition and the Winner's Curse: Evidence from Procurement," Economics Working Paper Archive 447, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  12. Campbell, Colin M. & Levin, Dan, 2000. "Can the Seller Benefit from an Insider in Common-Value Auctions?," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 106-120, March.
  13. Mireia Jofre-Bonet & Martin Pesendorfer, 2003. "Estimation of a Dynamic Auction Game," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(5), pages 1443-1489, 09.
  14. 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.
  15. Bulow, Jeremy I. & Huang, Ming & Klemperer, Paul, 1996. "Toeholds and Takeovers," CEPR Discussion Papers 1486, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Hendricks, Kenneth & Porter, Robert H & Boudreau, Bryan, 1987. "Information, Returns, and Bidding Behavior in OCS Auctions: 1954-1969," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(4), pages 517-42, June.
  17. Mares, Vlad & Harstad, Ronald M., 2003. "Private information revelation in common-value auctions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 109(2), pages 264-282, April.
  18. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
  19. Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-38, May.
  20. De Silva, Dakshina G. & Jeitschko, Thomas D. & Kosmopoulou, Georgia, 2005. "Stochastic synergies in sequential auctions," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 23(3-4), pages 183-201, April.
  21. Hendricks, Kenneth & Porter, Robert H, 1988. "An Empirical Study of an Auction with Asymmetric Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 865-83, December.
  22. Rob Porter, 1999. "Empirical Implications of Equilibrium Bidding in First-Price, Symmetric, Common Value Auctions," Working papers 99-19, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  23. Kagel, John H & Harstad, Ronald M & Levin, Dan, 1987. "Information Impact and Allocation Rules in Auctions with Affiliated Private Values: A Laboratory Study," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(6), pages 1275-1304, November.
  24. Eklof, Matias & Lunander, Anders, 2003. "Open outcry auctions with secret reserve prices: an empirical application to executive auctions of tenant owner's apartments in Sweden," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 114(2), pages 243-260, June.
  25. Theo Offerman, 2002. "Efficiency in Auctions with Private and Common Values: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(3), pages 625-643, June.
  26. 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.
  27. Koenker, Roger & Bassett, Gilbert, Jr, 1982. "Robust Tests for Heteroscedasticity Based on Regression Quantiles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 43-61, January.
  28. Porter, Robert H & Zona, J Douglas, 1993. "Detection of Bid Rigging in Procurement Auctions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 518-38, June.
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