Essays on Information Flows and Auction Outcomes in Business-to-Business Market: Theoretical and Empirical Evidence
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In this dissertation, I have three separate essays in the context of Business-to Business (B2B) auctions; in each I introduce a complex problem regarding the impact of information flows on auction's performance which has not been addressed by prior auction literature. The first two essays (Chapter 1 and 2) are empirical studies in the context of online secondary market B2B auctions while the third essay (Chapter 3) is a theoretical investigation and will contribute to the B2B procurement auction literature. The findings from this dissertation have managerial implications of how/when auctioneers can improve the efficiency or success of their operations. B2B auctions are new types of ventures which have begun to shape how industries of all types trade goods. Online B2B auctions have also become particularly popular for industrial procurement and liquidation purposes. By using online B2B auctions companies can benefit by creating competition when auctioning off goods or contracts to business customers. B2B Procurement auctions− where the buyer runs an auction to procure goods and services from suppliers− have been documented as saving firms millions of dollars by lowering the cost of procurement. On the other hand, B2B auctions are also commonly used by sellers in `secondary market' to liquidate the left-over goods to business buyers in a timely fashion. In order to maximize revenues in either both industrial procurement or secondary market settings, auctioneers should understand how the auction participants behave and react to the available market information or auction design. Auctioneers can then use this knowledge to improve the performance of their B2B auctions by choosing the right auction design or strategies. In the first essay, I investigate how an online B2B secondary market auction environment can provide several sources of information that can be used by bidders to form their bids. One such information set that has been relatively understudied in the literature pertains to reference prices available to the bidder from other concurrent and comparable auctions. I will examine how reference prices from such auctions affect bidding behavior on the focal auction conditioning on bidders' types. I will use longitudinal data of auctions and bids for more than 4000 B2B auctions collected from a large liquidator firm in North America. In the second essay, I report on the results of a field experiment that I carried out on a secondary market auction site of another one of the nation's largest B2B wholesale liquidators. The design of this field experiment on iPad marketplace is directly aimed at understanding how (i) the starting price of the auction, and (ii) the number of auctions for a specific (model, quality), i.e., the supply of that product, interact to impact the auction final price. I also explore how a seller should manage the product differentiation so that she auctions off the right mix and supply of products at the reasonable starting prices. Finally, in the last essay, I study a norm used in many procurement auctions in which buyers grant the `Right of First Refusal' (ROFR) to a favored supplier. Under ROFR, the favored supplier sees the bids of all other participating suppliers and has the opportunity to match the (current) winning bid. I verify the conventional wisdom that ROFR increases the buyer's procurement cost in a single auction setting. With a looming second auction in the future (with the same participating suppliers), I show that the buyer lowers his procurement cost by granting the ROFR to a supplier. The analytical findings of this essay highlights the critical role of information flows and the timing of information-release in procurement auctions with ROFR.