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Bargaining and Search: An Experimental Study

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  • Rami Zwick

    (The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)

  • Ching Chyi Lee

    (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Abstract

We study experimentally two versions of a model in which a buyer and a seller bargain over the price of a good; however, the buyer can choose to leave the negotiation table to search for other alternatives. Under one version, if the buyer chooses to search for a better price, the opportunity to purchase the good at the stated price is gone. Under the second version, the seller guarantees the same price if the buyer chooses to return immediately after a search (presumably because a better price could not be found). In both cases, the buyer has a fairly good idea about what to expect from the search, but because the search is costly, he has to weigh the potential benefits of the search against its cost. It turns out (theoretically) that adding search to a simple bargaining mechanism eliminates some unsatisfactory features of bargaining theory. Our experiment reveals that the model can account for some (but not all) of the behavioral regularities. In line with recent developments in behavioral decision theory and game theory, which assume bounded rationality and preferences over the relative division of a surplus, we find that subjects follow simple rules of thumb and distributional norms in choosing strategies, which are reflected in the behavioral consistencies observed in this study.

Suggested Citation

  • Rami Zwick & Ching Chyi Lee, 1999. "Bargaining and Search: An Experimental Study," Experimental 9902003, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpex:9902003
    Note: Type of Document - Acrobat PDF; prepared on PC; pages: 37 ; figures: included. Group Decision and Negotiation (in press)
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    Cited by:

    1. Rami Zwick & Amnon Rapoport & Alison King Chung Lo & A. V. Muthukrishnan, 2001. "Consumer Search: Not Enough Or Too Much?," Experimental 0110002, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Aalbers, Rob & van der Heijden, Eline & Potters, Jan & van Soest, Daan & Vollebergh, Herman, 2009. "Technology adoption subsidies: An experiment with managers," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 431-442, May.
    3. Feri, Francesco & Gantner, Anita, 2011. "Bargaining or searching for a better price? - An experimental study," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 376-399, June.
    4. Gao, Yongling & Driouchi, Tarik & Bennett, David J., 2018. "Ambiguity aversion in buyer-seller relationships: A contingent-claims and social network explanation," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 200(C), pages 50-67.
    5. Fiona Scott Morton & Jorge Silva-Risso & Florian Zettelmeyer, 2011. "What matters in a price negotiation: Evidence from the U.S. auto retailing industry," Quantitative Marketing and Economics (QME), Springer, vol. 9(4), pages 365-402, December.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Bargaining; search; outside option; ultimatum game;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior

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