Bargaining Outcomes with Double-Offer Arbitration
Increasingly, arbitration is becoming used to resolve bargaining disputes in a variety of settings. Reducing dispute rates is often listed as a main goal in designing arbitration mechanisms. Conventional arbitration and final-offer arbitration are two commonly used procedures, but theoretical examinations of these arbitration procedures show that disputants’ final bargaining positions do not converge and disagreement is likely. This article contains results from a set of experiments designed to compare bargaining outcomes under the two commonly used arbitration procedures with outcomes under an innovative procedure called “double-offer” arbitration (Zeng et al., 1996). This procedure requires that disputants make two final offers at impasse: a primary and a secondary offer. The arbitrator evaluates the pairs of offers using a linear criterion function, and theory suggests the secondary offers converge to the median of the arbitrator’s preferred settlement distribution. Because the procedure’s rules are that convergence of offers generates a settlement at those offers, this theoretical convergence result implies that arbitration is not needed in the end. Experimental results indicate that dispute rates in double-offer arbitration are, on average, about the same as dispute rates in conventional arbitration. However, other results show reason to favor double-offer arbitration. Specifically, in repeated bargaining, there is concern over whether use of an arbitration procedure becomes addictive and makes bargainers more likely to use the procedure in the future-a “narcotic effect.” The data show that double-offer arbitration is non-addictive, whereas both conventional and final-offer arbitration are. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005
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