Do too many cooks always spoil the stew? An experimental analysis of rent-seeking and the role of a strategic buyer
Laboratory methods are used to evaluate the effects of institutional arrangements and rent-defending activity on rent-seeking auction outcomes. In part, Nash equilibrium predictions are a useful behavioral guide: As predicted, more rents are dissipated in perfectly-discriminating auctions, where the high-bidder wins, than in lotteries, where relative bids determine the chance of winning. Also as predicted, the introduction of a rent-defending buyer reduces social costs. Nevertheless, the social costs of rent-seeking consistently exceed predicted levels. Moreover, individual bidding, especially by buyers, deviates markedly from Nash predictions. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998
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