We introduce a behavioral model that effectively predicts auctioneers’ reserve choice patterns in English clock auctions across varying reserve price formats (whether reserve prices are set ex-ante or ex-post auction events), number of bidders and the distribution of suppliers’ costs. In a two-parameter model, which we call Subjective Conditional Probability (SCP), auctioneers have subjective judgement of conditional probabilities. We theoretically show that the SCP explains two intuitive, but sub-optimal, reserve price setting patterns. It predicts and provides rationalizations for ex-ante reserve prices that decrease in the number of bidders and ex-post reserve prices that increase in the realized auction price. We conduct two experiments; one with a uniform cost distribution and another with a left-skewed cost distribution. We validate the SCP model internally and externally by comparing it to a wide range of models, including reduced form linear regression, risk aversion, anticipated regret model, and subjective probability judgement via in-sample and out-of-sample predictions. We conclude that the SCP has strong external validity across a variety of procurement environments.
Shachat, J., & Tan, L. (2022). How auctioneers set reserve prices in procurement auctions. European Journal of Operational Research, 304(2), 709-728. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejor.2022.04.025