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Bargaining and Search: An Experimental Study

, and . Group Decision and Negotiation 8 (6): 463--487 (November 1999)

Abstract

We study experimentally two versions of a model buyer and a seller bargain over the price of a good; however, the buyer can choose to leave the negotiation table to search for other alternatives. Under one version, if the buyer chooses to search for a better price, the opportunity to purchase the good at the stated price is gone. Under the second version, the seller guarantees the same price if the buyer chooses to return immediately after a search (presumably because a better price could not be found). In both cases, the buyer has a fairly good idea about what to expect from the search, but because the search is costly, he has to weigh the potential benefits of the search against its cost. It turns out (theoretically) that adding search to a simple bargaining mechanism eliminates some unsatisfactory features of bargaining theory.

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