Collusion in Beauty Contests

20 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2002

See all articles by Achim Wambach

Achim Wambach

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research; University of Mannheim; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Date Written: May 2002


During the recent sales of UMTS licenses in Europe some countries used auctions while others resorted to so-called Beauty Contests. There seems to be a wide consensus among economists that in these and other contexts like privatisation an auction is the better selling mechanism. However, why exactly an auction should be preferred is unclear. Here we present an argument why beauty contests or negotiations might be dominated by auctions, which is closely linked to the multi dimensionality on issues involved in this process. The important assumption we make is that bidding firms do not know the preferences of the government. As a consequence, during a beauty contest participants are uncertain about the final decision of the government. This uncertainty enables firms to collude.

Keywords: Auctions, Collusion, Beauty Contests

JEL Classification: C78, D44, D82, L51

Suggested Citation

Wambach, Achim, Collusion in Beauty Contests (May 2002). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 724, Available at SSRN:

Achim Wambach (Contact Author)

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research ( email )

P.O. Box 10 34 43
L 7,1
D-68034 Mannheim, 68034

University of Mannheim ( email )

Universitaetsbibliothek Mannheim
Mannheim, 68131

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679


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