Fine-Tailored for the Cartel-Favoritism in Procurement

Fine-Tailored for the Cartel-Favoritism in Procurement In this paper, we investigate the interaction between two firms, which are involved in a repeated procurement relationship modeled as a multiple criteria auction, and an auctioneer (a government employee) who has discretion in devising the selection criteria. Our main result is that favoritism substantially facilitates collusion. It increases the gains from collusion and contributes to solving basic implementation problems for a cartel of bidders operating in a stochastically changing environment. A most simple allocation rule where firms take turns in winning, independently of stochastic social preferences and firms’ costs, achieves full cartel efficiency (including price, production, and design efficiency). In each period the selection criteria is fine-tailored to the in-turn winner: the “environment” adapts to the cartel. This result holds true when the expected punishment is a fixed cost. When the cost varies with the magnitude of the distortion of the selection criteria (compared to the true social preferences), favoritism only partially shelters the cartel from the environment. We thus find that favoritism generally facilitates collusion at a high cost for society. Our analysis suggests some anti-corruption measures that could be effective in curbing favoritism and collusion in public markets. It also suggests that the much-advocated rotation of officials is likely to be counter-productive. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Review of Industrial Organization Springer Journals

Fine-Tailored for the Cartel-Favoritism in Procurement

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Publisher
Springer US
Copyright
Copyright © 2009 by Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
Subject
Economics; Industrial Organization; Microeconomics
ISSN
0889-938X
eISSN
1573-7160
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11151-009-9220-5
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

In this paper, we investigate the interaction between two firms, which are involved in a repeated procurement relationship modeled as a multiple criteria auction, and an auctioneer (a government employee) who has discretion in devising the selection criteria. Our main result is that favoritism substantially facilitates collusion. It increases the gains from collusion and contributes to solving basic implementation problems for a cartel of bidders operating in a stochastically changing environment. A most simple allocation rule where firms take turns in winning, independently of stochastic social preferences and firms’ costs, achieves full cartel efficiency (including price, production, and design efficiency). In each period the selection criteria is fine-tailored to the in-turn winner: the “environment” adapts to the cartel. This result holds true when the expected punishment is a fixed cost. When the cost varies with the magnitude of the distortion of the selection criteria (compared to the true social preferences), favoritism only partially shelters the cartel from the environment. We thus find that favoritism generally facilitates collusion at a high cost for society. Our analysis suggests some anti-corruption measures that could be effective in curbing favoritism and collusion in public markets. It also suggests that the much-advocated rotation of officials is likely to be counter-productive.

Journal

Review of Industrial OrganizationSpringer Journals

Published: Oct 14, 2009

References

  • Collusion and price rigidity
    Athey, S.; Bagwell, K.; Sanchirico, C.

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