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Auctions vs. Negotiations

  • Jeremy Bulow
  • Paul Klemperer

Which is the more profitable way to sell a company: a public auction or an optimally structured negotiation with a smaller number of bidders? We show that under standard assumptions the public auction is always preferable, even if it forfeits all the seller's negotiating power, including the ability to withdraw the object from sale, provided that it attracts at least one extra bidder. An immediate public auction also dominates negotiating while maintaining the right to hold an auction subsequently with more bidders. The results hold for both the standard independent private values model and a common values model. They suggest that the value of negotiating skill is small relative to the value of additional competition.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4608.

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Date of creation: Jan 1994
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Publication status: published as Bulow, Jeremy and Paul Klemperer. "Auctions Versus Negotiations," American Economic Review, 1996, v86(1,Mar), 180-194.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4608
Note: CF
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  1. Holmstrom, Bengt & Nalebuff, Barry, 1992. "To the Raider Goes the Surplus? A Reexamination of the Free-Rider Problem," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(1), pages 37-62, Spring.
  2. Bulow, Jeremy I. & Klemperer, Paul, 1991. "Rational Frenzies and Crashes," CEPR Discussion Papers 593, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Engelbrecht-Wiggans Richard, 1993. "Optimal Auctions Revisited," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 227-239, April.
  4. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1988. "Value Maximization and the Acquisition Process," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 7-20, Winter.
  5. McAfee, R Preston & McMillan, John, 1987. "Auctions and Bidding," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 699-738, June.
  6. Avery, Christopher, 1998. "Strategic Jump Bidding in English Auctions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(2), pages 185-210, April.
  7. Harris, Milton & Raviv, Artur, 1988. "Corporate control contests and capital structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1-2), pages 55-86, January.
  8. Roger B. Myerson, 1978. "Optimal Auction Design," Discussion Papers 362, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  9. R. Preston McAfee & Daniel Vincent, 1992. "Updating the Reserve Price in Common Value Auctions," Discussion Papers 977, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  10. McAfee, R. Preston & McMillan, John, 1987. "Auctions with entry," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 343-347.
  11. Hirshleifer, David & Titman, Sheridan, 1990. "Share Tendering Strategies and the Success of Hostile Takeover Bids," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(2), pages 295-324, April.
  12. Sanford J. Grossman & Oliver D. Hart, 1980. "Takeover Bids, the Free-Rider Problem, and the Theory of the Corporation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 11(1), pages 42-64, Spring.
  13. Cremer, Jacques & McLean, Richard P, 1985. "Optimal Selling Strategies under Uncertainty for a Discriminating Monopolist When Demands Are Interdependent," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(2), pages 345-61, March.
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