IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

(Un)expected Bidder Behavior in Spectrum Auctions: About Inconsistent Bidding and Its Impact on Efficiency in the Combinatorial Clock Auction


  • Christian Kroemer

    () (Technische Universität München)

  • Martin Bichler

    () (Technische Universität München)

  • Andor Goetzendorff

    () (Technische Universität München)


Abstract The combinatorial clock auction is a two-stage auction format, which has been used to sell spectrum licenses worldwide in the recent years. It draws on a number of elegant ideas inspired by economic theory. A revealed preference activity rule should provide incentives to bid straightforward, i.e., consistent with the bidders’ valuations on a payoff-maximizing package, in each round of the clock phase. A second-price rule should set incentives to bid truthfully in both phases. If bidders respond to these incentives and bid straightforward in the clock phase and truthful in the second sealed-bid stage, then the auction is fully efficient. Unfortunately, bidders might neither bid straightforward in the clock phase nor truthful on all packages in the second sealed-bid stage due to strategic reasons or practical limitations. We introduce metrics based on Afriat’s Efficiency Index to analyze straightforward bidding and report on empirical data from the lab and from the field in the British 4G auction in 2013 and the Canadian 700 MHz auction in 2014, where the bids were made public. The data provides evidence that bidders deviate significantly from straightforward bidding in the clock phase, which can restrict the bids they can submit in the supplementary phase. We show that such restrictions can have a significant negative impact on efficiency and revenue.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Kroemer & Martin Bichler & Andor Goetzendorff, 2016. "(Un)expected Bidder Behavior in Spectrum Auctions: About Inconsistent Bidding and Its Impact on Efficiency in the Combinatorial Clock Auction," Group Decision and Negotiation, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 31-63, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:grdene:v:25:y:2016:i:1:d:10.1007_s10726-015-9431-0
    DOI: 10.1007/s10726-015-9431-0

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Abstract
    Download Restriction: Access to the full text of the articles in this series is restricted.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Paul Milgrom, 2000. "Putting Auction Theory to Work: The Simultaneous Ascending Auction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 245-272, April.
    2. Varian, Hal R., 1990. "Goodness-of-fit in optimizing models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1-2), pages 125-140.
    3. Ausubel Lawrence M & Milgrom Paul R, 2002. "Ascending Auctions with Package Bidding," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-44, August.
    4. Gul, Faruk & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1999. "Walrasian Equilibrium with Gross Substitutes," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 95-124, July.
    5. Sano, Ryuji, 2012. "Non-bidding equilibrium in an ascending core-selecting auction," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 637-650.
    6. Peter Cramton, 2008. "A Review of the L-Band Auction," Papers of Peter Cramton 08rlba, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 2008.
    7. Milgrom,Paul, 2004. "Putting Auction Theory to Work," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521536721, August.
    8. Tobias Scheffel & Georg Ziegler & Martin Bichler, 2012. "On the impact of package selection in combinatorial auctions: an experimental study in the context of spectrum auction design," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 15(4), pages 667-692, December.
    9. Lawrence M. Ausubel & Oleg V. Baranov, 2014. "Market Design and the Evolution of the Combinatorial Clock Auction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(5), pages 446-451, May.
    10. Michael H. Rothkopf, 2007. "Thirteen Reasons Why the Vickrey-Clarke-Groves Process Is Not Practical," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 55(2), pages 191-197, April.
    11. Milgrom, Paul R & Weber, Robert J, 1982. "A Theory of Auctions and Competitive Bidding," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1089-1122, September.
    12. Lawrence M. Ausubel, 2006. "An Efficient Dynamic Auction for Heterogeneous Commodities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 602-629, June.
    13. Robert W. Day & Peter Cramton, 2012. "Quadratic Core-Selecting Payment Rules for Combinatorial Auctions," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 60(3), pages 588-603, June.
    14. Bichler, Martin & Goeree, Jacob & Mayer, Stefan & Shabalin, Pasha, 2014. "Spectrum auction design: Simple auctions for complex sales," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 613-622.
    15. Maarten Janssen & Vladimir Karamychev, 2013. "Gaming in Combinatorial Clock Auctions," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-027/VII, Tinbergen Institute, revised 16 Dec 2013.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:grdene:v:25:y:2016:i:1:d:10.1007_s10726-015-9431-0. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.