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Auctions Versus Negotiations in Procurement: An Empirical Analysis

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  • Patrick Bajari
  • Robert S. McMillan
  • Steve Tadelis

Abstract

Should the buyer of a customized good use competitive bidding or negotiation to select a contractor? To shed light on this question, we offer a framework that compares auctions with negotiations. We then examine a comprehensive data set of private sector building contracts awarded in Northern California during the years 1995-2000. The analysis suggests a number of potential limitations to the use of auctions. Auctions perform poorly when projects are complex, contractual design is incomplete and there are few available bidders. Furthermore, auctions stifle communication between buyers and the sellers, preventing the buyer from utilizing the contractor's expertise when designing the project. Some implications of these results for procurement in the public sector are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Patrick Bajari & Robert S. McMillan & Steve Tadelis, 2003. "Auctions Versus Negotiations in Procurement: An Empirical Analysis," NBER Working Papers 9757, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9757
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bajari, Patrick & Tadelis, Steven, 2001. "Incentives versus Transaction Costs: A Theory of Procurement Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(3), pages 387-407, Autumn.
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    4. William P. Rogerson, 1994. "Economic Incentives and the Defense Procurement Process," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 65-90, Fall.
    5. Manelli, Alejandro M & Vincent, Daniel R, 1995. "Optimal Procurement Mechanisms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(3), pages 591-620, May.
    6. Milgrom, Paul & Shannon, Chris, 1994. "Monotone Comparative Statics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(1), pages 157-180, January.
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    8. Tirole, Jean, 1986. "Procurement and Renegotiation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(2), pages 235-259, April.
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    10. McAfee, R Preston & McMillan, John, 1987. "Auctions and Bidding," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 699-738, June.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L0 - Industrial Organization - - General
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights

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