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Common Knowledge As A Barrier To Negotiation


  • Ian Ayres
  • Barry Nalebuff


When we disclose information, we may also communicate information about information. The listener learns not only X but also that the speaker knows X. And the speaker also learns by speaking (for example, the speaker knows that the listener knows X). In this paper we present a series of examples where negotiators want to communciate X, but do not want to comunicate higher-order information about X. While it may be efficient for one negotiator to tell another the true consequences of failing to reach agreement, when such information is threatening or insulting it may be useful to prevent the threat or insult from becoming common knowledge. Game-theorists often model private information as the but-for cause of inefficient distributive bargaining. In these simple bargaining models, if each side's BATNA were common knowledge, the parties would instantaneously (and costlessly) reach agreement. But we show that while the lack of first-order informa

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  • Ian Ayres & Barry Nalebuff, 1997. "Common Knowledge As A Barrier To Negotiation," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm76, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Aug 2000.
  • Handle: RePEc:ysm:somwrk:ysm76

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    5. Karl E. Case & Robert J. Shiller, 1990. "Forecasting Prices and Excess Returns in the Housing Market," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 18(3), pages 253-273.
    6. Barton A. Smith & William P. Tesarek, 1991. "House Prices and Regional Real Estate Cycles: Market Adjustments in Houston," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 19(3), pages 396-416.
    7. John R. Knight & C. F. Sirmans & Geoffrey K. Turnbull, 1998. "List Price Information in Residential Appraisal and Underwriting," Journal of Real Estate Research, American Real Estate Society, vol. 15(1), pages 59-76.
    8. Jensen, Michael C & Murphy, Kevin J, 1990. "Performance Pay and Top-Management Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(2), pages 225-264, April.
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