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Does Laboratory Trading Mirror Behavior in Real World Markets? Fair Bargaining and Competitive Bidding on EBay

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  • Gary E. Bolton
  • Axel Ockenfels

Abstract

We conducted a controlled field experiment on eBay and examined to what extent both social and competitive laboratory behavior is robust to institutionally complex real world markets with experienced traders, who selected themselves into these markets. EBay’s natural trading system provides bridges between lab and field environment that can be exploited to explore differences in behavior in the two environments. We find that many sellers do not make use of their commitment power as predicted by standard theories of both selfish and social behavior. However, a concern for equity strongly affects outcomes and reputation building in bilateral bargaining, while buyer competition effectively masks this concern and robustly yields equilibrium outcomes. The dichotomy of behaviors mirrors observations in laboratory research. Furthermore, we find that behavioral patterns in the field experiment mirror fully naturally occurring trading patterns in the market.

Suggested Citation

  • Gary E. Bolton & Axel Ockenfels, 2008. "Does Laboratory Trading Mirror Behavior in Real World Markets? Fair Bargaining and Competitive Bidding on EBay," CESifo Working Paper Series 2241, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2241
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Axel Ockenfels, 2009. "Marktdesign und Experimentelle Wirtschaftsforschung," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 10(s1), pages 31-53, May.
    2. van Damme, Eric & Binmore, Kenneth G. & Roth, Alvin E. & Samuelson, Larry & Winter, Eyal & Bolton, Gary E. & Ockenfels, Axel & Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg & Gneezy, Uri & Kocher, Martin G, 2014. "How Werner Güth's ultimatum game shaped our understanding of social behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 292-318.
    3. Shchetinin, Oleg, 2009. "Contracting under Reciprocal Altruism," TSE Working Papers 09-078, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    4. Gary Bolton & Ben Greiner & Axel Ockenfels, 2013. "Engineering Trust: Reciprocity in the Production of Reputation Information," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 59(2), pages 265-285, January.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    eBay; auctions; behavioral economics; trust; market design;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions

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