IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Auctions Versus Negotiations: The Role of Price Discrimination

  • Chia-Hui Chen
  • Junichiro Ishida

Auctions are a popular and prevalent form of trading mechanism, despite the restriction that the seller cannot price-discriminate among potential buyers. To understand why this is the case, we consider an auction-like environment in which a seller with an indivisible object negotiates with two asymmetric buyers to determine who obtains the object and at what price. The trading process resembles the Dutch auction, except that the seller is allowed to offer different prices to different buyers. We show that when the seller can commit to a price path in advance, the optimal outcome can generally be implemented. When the seller lacks such commitment power, however, there instead exists an equilibrium in which the seller's expected payoff is driven down to the second-price auction level. Our analysis suggests that having the discretion to price discriminate is not necessarily beneficial for the seller, and even harmful under plausible conditions, which could explain the pervasive use of auctions in practice.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University in its series ISER Discussion Paper with number 0873.

in new window

Date of creation: May 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:dpr:wpaper:0873
Contact details of provider: Postal: 6-1 Mihogaoka, Ibaraki, Osaka 567-0047
Fax: 81-6-6879-8583
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Jeremy Bulow & Paul Klemperer, 2009. "Why Do Sellers (Usually) Prefer Auctions?," Economics Papers 2009-W05, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  2. Giuseppe Moscarini & Marco Ottaviani, 1998. "Price Competition for an Informed Buyer," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1199, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  3. Ruqu Wang, 1991. "Auctions Versus Posted-Price Selling," Working Papers 812, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  4. Igal Hendel & Alessandro Lizzeri, 2003. "The Role Of Commitment In Dynamic Contracts: Evidence From Life Insurance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 299-327, February.
  5. Chia-Hui Chen, 2012. "Name Your Own Price at Strategic Bidding and Lockout Periods," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(4), pages 1341-1369.
  6. Vasiliki Skreta, 2005. "Optimal Auction Design under Non-Commitment," UCLA Economics Online Papers 346, UCLA Department of Economics.
  7. William Vickrey, 1961. "Counterspeculation, Auctions, And Competitive Sealed Tenders," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 16(1), pages 8-37, 03.
  8. Bergemann, Dirk & Valimaki, Juuso, 2000. "Experimentation in Markets," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(2), pages 213-34, April.
  9. Hannu Vartiainen, 2013. "Auction Design Without Commitment," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 316-342, 04.
  10. Krishna, Vijay, 2003. "Asymmetric English auctions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 112(2), pages 261-288, October.
  11. Samuelson, William F, 1984. "Bargaining under Asymmetric Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(4), pages 995-1005, July.
  12. Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
  13. Johannes Horner & Larry Samuelson, 2011. "Managing Strategic Buyers," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000025, David K. Levine.
  14. Decamps, Jean-Paul & Mariotti, Thomas, 2004. "Investment timing and learning externalities," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 118(1), pages 80-102, September.
  15. Johannes H�rner & Larry Samuelson, 2011. "Managing Strategic Buyers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(3), pages 379 - 425.
  16. Maskin, Eric & Riley, John, 2000. "Asymmetric Auctions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(3), pages 413-38, July.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:dpr:wpaper:0873. 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: (Fumiko Matsumoto)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.