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Fine-Tailored for the Cartel-Favoritism in Procurement

  • Ariane Lambert-Mogiliansky


  • Grigory Kosenok


In this paper, we investigate the interaction between two firms, which are involved in a repeated procurement relationship modeled as a multiple criteria auction, and an auctioneer (a government employee) who has discretion in devising the selection criteria. Our main result is that favoritism substantially facilitates collusion. It increases the gains from collusion and contributes to solving basic implementation problems for a cartel of bidders operating in a stochastically changing environment. A most simple allocation rule where firms take turns in winning, independently of stochastic social preferences and firms' costs, achieves full cartel efficiency (including price, production, and design efficiency). In each period the selection criteria is fine-tailored to the in-turn winner: the "environment" adapts to the cartel. This result holds true when the expected punishment is a fixed cost. When the cost varies with the magnitude of the distortion of the selection criteria (compared to the true social preferences), favoritism only partially shelters the cartel from the environment. We thus find that favoritism generally facilitates collusion at a high cost for society. Our analysis suggests some anti-corruption measures that could be effective in curbing favoritism and collusion in public markets. It also suggests that the much-advocated rotation of officials is likely to be counter-productive.

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Review of Industrial Organization.

Volume (Year): 35 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (September)
Pages: 95-121

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Handle: RePEc:kap:revind:v:35:y:2009:i:1:p:95-121
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  1. Rose-Ackerman,Susan, 1999. "Corruption and Government," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521659123.
  2. Ariane Lambert-Mogiliansky & Konstantin Sonin, 2006. "Collusive Market Sharing and Corruption in Procurement," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(4), pages 883-908, December.
  3. Michihiro Kandori, 1992. "Social Norms and Community Enforcement," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(1), pages 63-80.
  4. Rose-Ackerman,Susan, 1999. "Corruption and Government," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521632935.
  5. Lambert-Mogiliansky, Ariane, 2002. "Why firms pay occasional bribes: the connection economy," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 47-60, March.
  6. Susan Athey & Kyle Bagwell & Chris Sanchirico, 1998. "Collusion and Price Rigidity," Working papers 98-23, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  7. Athey, Susan & Bagwell, Kyle, 2001. "Optimal Collusion with Private Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(3), pages 428-65, Autumn.
  8. Roy Radner & Roger Myerson & Eric Maskin, 1986. "An Example of a Repeated Partnership Game with Discounting and with Uniformly Inefficient Equilibria," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(1), pages 59-69.
  9. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1991. "Auction design and favoritism," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 9-42, March.
  10. Green, Edward J. & Porter, Robert H., 1982. "Noncooperative Collusion Under Imperfect Price Information," Working Papers 367, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  11. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine & Eric Maskin, 1994. "The Folk Theorem with Imperfect Public Information," Levine's Working Paper Archive 394, David K. Levine.
  12. Riley, John G, 1989. "Expected Revenue from Open and Sealed Bid Auctions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 41-50, Summer.
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