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Optimal value commitment in bilateral bargaining


  • Britz, Volker


We study the role of commitment as a source of strategic power in a non-cooperative bargaining game. Two impatient players bargain about the division of a shrinking surplus under a standard bargaining protocol in discrete time with constant recognition probabilities. Before bargaining, a player can commit to some part of the surplus. This commitment remains binding until the surplus has shrunk below the amount that the player is committed to. Intuitively, one cannot remain committed to something which has become impossible. The model offers insight on the relative importance of proposal power and commitment for the bargaining outcome. In a version of the game where both players may simultaneously choose their commitments, the equal split emerges from within a range of equilibrium divisions as a focal point which is robust to changes in the model parameters.

Suggested Citation

  • Britz, Volker, 2013. "Optimal value commitment in bilateral bargaining," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 345-351.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:77:y:2013:i:1:p:345-351
    DOI: 10.1016/j.geb.2012.10.013

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tore Ellingsen & Topi Miettinen, 2008. "Commitment and Conflict in Bilateral Bargaining," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1629-1635, September.
    2. Dilip Abreu & Faruk Gul, 2000. "Bargaining and Reputation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(1), pages 85-118, January.
    3. Muthoo, Abhinay, 1992. "Revocable Commitment and Sequential Bargaining," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(411), pages 378-387, March.
    4. Kambe, Shinsuke, 1999. "Bargaining with Imperfect Commitment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 217-237, August.
    5. Muthoo, Abhinay, 1996. "A Bargaining Model Based on the Commitment Tactic," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 134-152, April.
    6. Li, Duozhe, 2007. "Bargaining with history-dependent preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 136(1), pages 695-708, September.
    7. Crawford, Vincent P, 1982. "A Theory of Disagreement in Bargaining," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 607-637, May.
    8. Fershtman Chaim & Seidmann Daniel J., 1993. "Deadline Effects and Inefficient Delay in Bargaining with Endogenous Commitment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 306-321, August.
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    More about this item


    Strategic bargaining; Commitment; Subgame perfect equilibrium;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions


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