Evidence Revelation in Competitions for Access
A decision maker must divide a resource between multiple agents. The decision maker prefers to award the resource to the most-qualified agents, but he is initially uncertain about agent qualifications. Although he can learn about qualifications by granting the agents “access (e.g., by taking time to review applications, hold inter- views, or conduct an investigation), he is time-constrained and cannot grant access to everyone. This paper considers how the decision maker should allocate the resource when agent qualifications are independent of their valuations; that is, when the optimal allocation cannot be achieved by selling the resource directly through an auction. We present a class of mechanisms in which the access is awarded through a competition in which higher payments (e.g., time, money) correspond to a greater likelihood of receiving access. After learning the qualifications of those agents with access, the deci- sion maker then chooses an allocation based on his updated beliefs. The analysis shows that there always exists competition for access mechanisms in which the decision maker becomes fully informed about the qualifications of all agents (even through only some of the agents reveal their qualifications through access). That is, the decision maker can always award access in such a way that he learns about and can implement his preferred resource allocation. When agents only differ in terms of their qualifications, a traditional all-pay auction is sufficient for full revelation.
|Date of creation:||Jul 2010|
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|Publication status:||Forthcoming: Working Paper|
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