Competition, Transparency, and Reciprocity: A Comparative Study of Auctions and Negotiations
The paper discusses experiments aimed at comparing multi-attribute reverse auctions and multi-bilateral negotiations for procuring goods with multiple attributes. Both exchange mechanisms involve a buyer purchasing from one of several sellers. Two types of negotiations are considered: verifiable and non-verifiable. They differ in the sellers’ knowledge of the current best offer on the table; in verifiable negotiations the best offer is automatically shown to every participant, which makes it similar to auctions. Online auctions and negotiation systems were used to study auction and negotiation processes, and the mechanisms’ efficiency. The results show that buyers did best using auctions, followed by non-verifiable and verifiable negotiations. We also looked into the differences between auctions and negotiations in terms of their duration, sellers’ and buyers’ involvement, and efficiency and conclude that the behavior of buyers and sellers cannot be explained solely on the grounds of traditional economics. It can, however, be explained on the grounds of social exchange theory and behavioral economics. In multi-bilateral negotiations competition and social behavior coexist. When transparency is introduced the social effect becomes stronger, weakening the impact of competition.