We experimentally study the effects of allotment—the division of an item into homogeneous units—in independent private value auctions. We compare a bundling first-price auction with two equivalent treatments where allotment is implemented: a two-unit discriminatory auction and two simultaneous single-unit first-price auctions. We find that allotment in the form of a discriminatory auction generates a loss of efficiency with respect to bundling. In the allotment treatments, we observe large and persistent bid spread, and the discriminatory auction is less efficient than simultaneous auctions. We provide a unified interpretation of our results that is based on both a non-equilibrium response to the coordination problem characterizing the simultaneous auction format and a general class of behavioral preferences that includes risk aversion, joy of winning and loser’s regret as specific cases. © 2016 Economic Science Association
We design a laboratory experiment in which an interested third party endowed with private information sends a public message to two conflicting players, who then make their choices. We find that third-party communication is not strategic. Nevertheless, a hawkish message by a third party makes hawkish behavior more likely while a dovish message makes it less likely. Moreover, how subjects respond to the message is largely unaffected by the third party’s incentives. We argue that our results are consistent with a focal point interpretation in the spirit of Schelling.