Supplier Diversity Before the Time of Cholera

56 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2020 Last revised: 26 May 2020

See all articles by José Alcalde

José Alcalde

IUDESP, University of Alicante

Matthias Dahm

University of Leicester - Department of Economics

Date Written: May 23, 2020


Procurement programs often aim to rely on a diverse pool of suppliers, besides achieving cost effectiveness. We propose complementing a share auction for dual sourcing with affirmative action to create an endogenous set-aside for a high-cost supplier. In our model more intensive affirmative action strengthens the targeted provider. This has the potential to level the playing field, inducing more competitive procurement overall. Our main result provides a condition under which the endogenous set-aside not only guarantees a very substantial share for the high-cost supplier, but also reduces the buyer's provision cost compared to a standard auction. This result is robust to providers' probabilistic beliefs about each other, and how affirmative action programs are implemented. We also illustrate how our approach can help to reduce the severity and likelihood of health product shortages, such as those occurred during the recent COVID-19 outbreak.

Keywords: Affirmative Action, Set-Asides, Dual Sourcing, Robust Mechanisms

JEL Classification: D44, D47, H57, J15

Suggested Citation

Alcalde, José and Dahm, Matthias, Supplier Diversity Before the Time of Cholera (May 23, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

José Alcalde (Contact Author)

IUDESP, University of Alicante ( email )

University of Alicante
Alicante, Alicante 03071


Matthias Dahm

University of Leicester - Department of Economics ( email )

Department of Economics
Leicester LE1 7RH, Leicestershire LE1 7RH
United Kingdom

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