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Expectations and Comparative Arbitration Institutions


  • David Dickinson


Arbitration is a growing method of resolving disputes in varied settings. While two specific arbitration rules dominate in practice, other procedures have been hypothesized to better promote voluntary settlement. Such hypotheses require theoretical assumptions of identical bargainer expectations even though divergent expectations or optimism is considered prevalent in naturally occurring negotiations. This article examines disputant behavior in a controlled laboratory setting where point-estimates of disputant expectations are captured, thus allowing one to test the “chilling effect” hypotheses of optimism on both dispute rates and final- offer divergence. The extent of the dual chilling effect is examined for both commonly used arbitration procedures as well as for an innovative procedure that, while not used in practice, is theoretically predicted to induce final-offer convergence when expectations are unbiased. The results show that optimism is prevalent in the data, extra information does not fully de-bias the disputants, and optimism increases both dispute rates and final- offer divergence. The degree to which a final offer plays a strategic role in the arbitration institution is an important determinant of this final chilling effect result. Lastly, once the effects of optimism are considered, the innovative arbitration procedure actually generates the highest dispute rates, contrary to its theoretical claim.

Suggested Citation

  • David Dickinson, 2003. "Expectations and Comparative Arbitration Institutions," Working Papers 2003-02, Utah State University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:usu:wpaper:2003-02

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bolton, Gary E. & Katok, Elena, 1998. "Reinterpreting Arbitration's Narcotic Effect: An Experimental Study of Learning in Repeated Bargaining," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 1-33, October.
    2. Ashenfelter, Orley, et al, 1992. "An Experimental Comparison of Dispute Rates in Alternative Arbitration Systems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(6), pages 1407-1433, November.
    3. 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.
    4. Loewenstein, George, et al, 1993. "Self-Serving Assessments of Fairness and Pretrial Bargaining," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(1), pages 135-159, January.
    5. Babcock, Linda, et al, 1995. "Biased Judgments of Fairness in Bargaining," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1337-1343, December.
    6. Nagel, Rosemarie, 1995. "Unraveling in Guessing Games: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1313-1326, December.
    7. Ashenfelter, Orley, 1987. "Arbitrator Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 342-346, May.
    8. Linda Babcock & Xianghong Wang & George Loewenstein, 1996. "Choosing the Wrong Pond: Social Comparisons in Negotiations That Reflect a Self-Serving Bias," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(1), pages 1-19.
    9. Farmer, Amy & Pecorino, Paul & Stango, Victor, 2004. "The Causes of Bargaining Failure: Evidence from Major League Baseball," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(2), pages 543-568, October.
    10. Steven J. Brams & Samuel Merrill, III, 1983. "Equilibrium Strategies for Final-Offer Arbitration: There is no Median Convergence," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 29(8), pages 927-941, August.
    11. Steven J. Brams & Samuel Merrill, III, 1986. "Binding Versus Final-Offer Arbitration: A Combination is Best," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(10), pages 1346-1355, October.
    12. Crawford, Vincent P, 1979. "On Compulsory-Arbitration Schemes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(1), pages 131-159, February.
    13. repec:fth:prinin:219 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Henry S. Farber & Max H. Bazerman, 1987. "Divergent Expectations as a Cause of Disagreement in Bargaining: Evidence from a Comparison of Arbitration Schemes."," NBER Working Papers 2139, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Orley Ashenfelter, 1987. "Arbitrator Behavior," Working Papers 599, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    16. Pecorino, Paul & Van Boening, Mark, 2001. "Bargaining and Information: An Empirical Analysis of A Multistage Arbitration Game," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(4), pages 922-948, October.
    17. Henry S. Farber & Max H. Bazerman, 1989. "Divergent Expectations as a Cause of Disagreement in Bargaining: Evidence from a Comparison of Arbitration Schemes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(1), pages 99-120.
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    Cited by:

    1. David Dickinson, 2005. "Bargaining Outcomes with Double-Offer Arbitration," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 8(2), pages 145-166, June.
    2. David Dickinson & Lynn Hunnicutt, 2010. "Nonbinding recommendations: the relative effects of focal points versus uncertainty reduction on bargaining outcomes," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 69(4), pages 615-634, October.

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