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Delay as Agenda Setting

43 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2012  

James J. Anton

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business; Duke University - Department of Economics; Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative

Dennis Yao

Harvard Business School; University of Pennsylvania - Business & Public Policy Department

Date Written: June 5, 2012


We examine a multi-issue dynamic decision-making process that involves endogenous commitment. Our primary focus is on actions that impact delay, an extreme form of lack of commitment. Delay is strategically interesting when decision makers with asymmetric preferences face multiple issues and have limited resources for influencing outcomes. A delayed decision becomes part of the subsequent agenda, thereby altering the allocation of resources. The opportunity to delay decisions leads the players to act against their short-run interests when they have strongly asymmetric preferences. Two classes of strategic activity emerge: focusing (reductions in delay) and pinning (increases in delay). We characterize these equilibria, explore how strategic delay alters the benefits to agenda setting, and develop implications for settings where bargaining is feasible. Our analysis applies directly to group, hierarchical, and coalitional decision making settings and illuminates a range of multi-market competitive interactions.

Suggested Citation

Anton, James J. and Yao, Dennis, Delay as Agenda Setting (June 5, 2012). Economic Research Initiatives at Duke (ERID) Working Paper No. 135. Available at SSRN: or

James J. Anton (Contact Author)

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

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Duke University - Department of Economics

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Dennis Yao

Harvard Business School ( email )

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University of Pennsylvania - Business & Public Policy Department ( email )

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