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Do Groups Fall Prey to the Winner's Curse?

  • Marco Casari
  • Christine Jackson
  • Jingjing Zhang

In an experiment, we studied how small groups tackle a company takeover game, a task where participants deciding in isolation frequently exhibit the winner’s curse. We found that groups of three members, who could exchange opinions and chat, substantially reduced the winner's curse and generally placed better bids than individuals. We report that risk attitude cannot account for the group improvement and that learning from simply observing others' bids improved group performance only marginally. We examined the decisional processes that drove the improvement in group performance, including a detailed content analysis of group communication. When there was disagreement within a group, what prevailed was not the best but the median opinion. Hence, although groups in this task underperformed with respect to a “truth wins” benchmark, they outperformed individuals deciding in isolation.

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Paper provided by McMaster University in its series Department of Economics Working Papers with number 2009-18.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mcm:deptwp:2009-18
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  1. James C. Cox & Stephen C. Hayne, . "Barking Up the Right Tree: Are Small Groups Rational Agents?," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2006-02, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  2. Marco Casari & John C. Ham & John H. Kagel, 2005. "Selection bias, demographic effects, and ability effects in common value auction experiments," Staff Reports 213, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  3. Holt, Charles A & Sherman, Roger, 1994. "The Loser's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 642-52, June.
  4. David J. Cooper & John H. Kagel, 2005. "Are Two Heads Better Than One? Team versus Individual Play in Signaling Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 477-509, June.
  5. Levis, Mario, 1990. "The Winner's Curse Problem, Interest Costs and the Underpricing of Initial Public Offerings," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(399), pages 76-89, March.
  6. Ronald J. Baker II & Susan K. Laury & Arlington W. Williams, 2007. "Comparing Small-Group and Individual Behavior in Lottery-Choice Experiments," Caepr Working Papers 2007-018, Center for Applied Economics and Policy Research, Economics Department, Indiana University Bloomington.
  7. Roll, Richard, 1986. "The Hubris Hypothesis of Corporate Takeovers," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(2), pages 197-216, April.
  8. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
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