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Competitive Auctions: Theory and Application


  • John Kennes

    (Institute of Economics, University of Copenhagen)


The theory of competitive auctions offers a coherent framework for modelling coordination frictions as a non-cooperative game. The theory represents an advancement over cooperative approaches that make exogenous assumptions about how output is divided between buyers and sellers and about the forces that bring buyers and sellers into local markets. Moreover, unlike price posting models, which fix the terms of trade prior to matching, competitive auction models have a bidding process that allocates the good (or service) to the highest valuation bidder at a price equal to the second highest valuation. Therefore, the competitive auction model is more robust to problems in which there are heterogenous valuations. This paper develops the theory of competitive auctions and applies it to a number of practical problems in microeconomics, labor economics, industrial organization, investment theory and monetary economics.

Suggested Citation

  • John Kennes, 2004. "Competitive Auctions: Theory and Application," Discussion Papers 04-16, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0416

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Julien, Benoit & Kennes, John & King, Ian, 2006. "The Mortensen rule and efficient coordination unemployment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 149-155, February.
    2. Benoît Julien & John Kennes & Ian King, 2002. "Auctions Beat Posted Prices in a Small Market," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 158(4), pages 548-548, December.
    3. James Albrecht & Pieter A. Gautier & Susan Vroman, 2006. "Equilibrium Directed Search with Multiple Applications," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(4), pages 869-891.
    4. Pieter A. Gautier & Jose L. Moraga, 2004. "Strategic Wage Setting and Coordination Frictions with Multiple Applications," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-063/1, Tinbergen Institute, revised 16 Aug 2004.
    5. Shi, Shouyong, 2006. "Wage differentials, discrimination and efficiency," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 849-875, May.
    6. Kenneth Burdett & Shouyong Shi & Randall Wright, 2001. "Pricing and Matching with Frictions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(5), pages 1060-1085, October.
    7. Shouyong Shi, 1998. "Frictional Assignment," Working Papers 988, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
    8. John Kennes & Aaron Schiff, 2003. "The Value of a Reputation System," Industrial Organization 0301011, EconWPA.
    9. King, Ian & Kennes, John & Julien, Benoit, 2001. "Residual Wage Disparity in Directed Search Equilibrium," Working Papers 209, Department of Economics, The University of Auckland.
    10. Melanie Cao & Shouyong Shi, 2000. "Coordination, matching, and wages," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1009-1033, November.
    11. Shouyong Shi, 2002. "A Directed Search Model of Inequality with Heterogeneous Skills and Skill-Biased Technology," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(2), pages 467-491.
    12. Benoit Julien & John Kennes & Ian King, 2000. "Bidding for Labor," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 3(4), pages 619-649, October.
    13. Shouyong Shi, 2002. "Product Market and the Size-Wage Differential," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(1), pages 21-54, February.
    14. Kultti, Klaus, 1999. "Equivalence of Auctions and Posted Prices," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 106-113, April.
    15. Klaus Kultti & Antti Miettunen & Juha Virrankoski, 2006. "Physical Search," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 89(3), pages 223-244, December.
    16. Jansen, Marcel, 2010. "Job auctions and hold-ups," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 608-619, June.
    17. Steven J. Davis, 2001. "The Quality Distribution of Jobs and the Structure of Wages in Search Equilibrium," NBER Working Papers 8434, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Moen, Espen R, 1997. "Competitive Search Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 385-411, April.
    19. Alain Delacroix & Shouyong Shi, 2006. "Directed Search On The Job And The Wage Ladder," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(2), pages 651-699, May.
    20. Julien Benoit & Kennes John & King Ian Paul, 2001. "Auctions and Posted Prices in Directed Search Equilibrium," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-16, July.
    21. Benoît Julien & John Kennes & Ian King, 2005. "Ex post bidding and efficient coordination unemployment," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(1), pages 174-193, February.
    22. Coles, Melvyn G. & Eeckhout, Jan, 2003. "Indeterminacy and directed search," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 111(2), pages 265-276, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kennes, John & Schiff, Aaron, 2008. "Quality infomediation in search markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 1191-1202, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts


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