Competition in or for the Field: Which is Better?

18 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2002 Last revised: 27 Oct 2010

See all articles by Eduardo M. R. A. Engel

Eduardo M. R. A. Engel

Yale University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Alexander Galetovic

Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez; Stanford University - The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace; University of Padua - CRIEP

Ronald D. Fischer

University of Chile - Center of Applied Economics (CEA)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 2002

Abstract

In many circumstances, a principal, who wants prices to be as low as possible, must contract with agents who would like to charge the monopoly price. This paper compares a Demsetz auction, which awards an exclusive contract to the agent bidding the lowest price (competition for the field) with having two agents provide the good under (imperfectly) competitive conditions (competition in the field). We obtain a simple sufficient condition showing unambiguously which option is best. The condition depends only on the shapes of the surplus function of the principal and the profit function of agents, and is independent of the particular duopoly game played ex post. We apply this condition to three canonical examples -- procurement, royalty contracts and dealerships -- and find that whenever marginal revenue for the final good is decreasing in the quantity sold, a Demsetz auction is best. Moreover, a planner who wants to maximize social surplus also prefers a Demsetz auction.

Suggested Citation

Engel, Eduardo M. and Galetovic, Alexander and Fischer, Ronald D., Competition in or for the Field: Which is Better? (April 2002). NBER Working Paper No. w8869. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=306403

Eduardo M. Engel (Contact Author)

Yale University - Department of Economics ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States
203-432-5595 (Phone)
203-432-5779 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Alexander Galetovic

Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez ( email )

Peñalolén
Santiago
Chile

Stanford University - The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-6010
United States

University of Padua - CRIEP ( email )

Padua
Italy

Ronald D. Fischer

University of Chile - Center of Applied Economics (CEA) ( email )

Republica 701
Casilla 2777
Santiago
Chile
+56/2/678 4055 (Phone)
+56/2/689 7895 (Fax)

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