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An externality-robust auction: theory and experimental evidence

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  • Björn Bartling
  • Nick Netzer

Abstract

Behavioral robustness is essential in mechanism design. Existing papers focus on robustness as captured by dominant strategies. This paper studies the novel concept of externality-robustness, which addresses players’ motives to affect other players’ monetary payoffs. One example is externalities due to spite, which has been used to explain overbidding in second-price auctions. We show theoretically and experimentally that a trade-off exists between dominant-strategy implementation and externality-robust implementation. In particular, we derive the externality-robust counterpart of the second-price auction. Our experiments replicate the earlier finding of overbidding in the second-price auction, but we find that average bids equal value in the externality-robust auction. Our data also reveal that both auctions produce the same level of efficiency, suggesting that both dimensions of robustness are equally important. Our results are relevant for mechanism design in general, because the concept of externality-robustness is applicable to arbitrary mechanism design problems.

Suggested Citation

  • Björn Bartling & Nick Netzer, 2013. "An externality-robust auction: theory and experimental evidence," ECON - Working Papers 153, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Apr 2016.
  • Handle: RePEc:zur:econwp:153
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    Cited by:

    1. Bierbrauer, Felix & Netzer, Nick, 2016. "Mechanism design and intentions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 557-603.
    2. Bierbrauer, Felix & Ockenfels, Axel & Pollak, Andreas & Rückert, Désirée, 2017. "Robust mechanism design and social preferences," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 59-80.
    3. Kassas, Bachir & Palma, Marco A. & Anderson, David P., 2017. "Fine-Tuning Willingness-To-Pay Estimates in Second Price Auctions," 2017 Annual Meeting, July 30-August 1, Chicago, Illinois 258466, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    4. Björn Bartling & Tobias Gesche & Nick Netzer, 2017. "Does the absence of human sellers bias bidding behavior in auction experiments?," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 3(1), pages 44-61, July.
    5. repec:eee:ecolet:v:161:y:2017:i:c:p:71-73 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Daske, Thomas, 2017. "Externality Assessments, Welfare Judgments, and Mechanism Design," EconStor Preprints 172494, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Robust mechanism design; spiteful preferences; experimental auctions;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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