On the First Offer Dilemma in Bargaining and Negotiations
35 Pages Posted: 3 Jan 2019
Date Written: December 9, 2018
In bargaining and negotiations, should one make the first offer or wait for the opponent to do it? Practitioners support the idea that moving first in bargaining is a mistake, while researchers find strong evidence that first-movers benefit from an anchor effect. This paper addresses these issues from a theoretical perspective for the first time in the literature. It is found that first-movers benefit from a strategic advantage, while second-movers benefit from an information advantage. Therefore, the existence of first- and second-mover advantages depends crucially on the relative strength of these two effects. In line with the experimental literature, first-mover advantages are probably more prevalent, but second-mover advantages appear in very reasonable and realistic bargaining situations. Among other results, it is also found that second-mover advantages require the existence of high-types (patient individuals) and differences in individuals' preferences. The results also suggest a systematic first-mover advantage in contexts of great ambiguity, in which the first offer anchor effect becomes the driving force. This research expands our understanding about the strategic and information roles of offers in bargaining, and will help researchers and practitioners designing optimal bargaining strategies.
Keywords: Bargaining and negotiation, First offer dilemma, Anchoring effects, Information gains, Second-mover advantage
JEL Classification: C78, C91, D03, D74
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation