Journal Article

Collusion in Auctions for Emission Permits: An Experimental Analysis

Apr 30, 2009 | Dallas Burtraw, Jacob Goeree, Charles Holt, Erica Myers, Karen L. Palmer, William Shobe


Environmental markets have several institutional features that provide a new context for the use of auctions and which have not been studied previously. This paper reports on laboratory experiments testing three auction forms – uniform and discriminatory price sealed bid auctions and an ascending clock auction. We test the ability of subjects to tacitly or explicitly collude in order to maximize profits. Our main result is that the discriminatory and uniform price auctions produce greater revenues than the clockauction, both without and with explicit communication. The clock appears to be more subject to successful collusion because of its sequential structure and because it allows bidders to focus on onedimension of cooperation (quantity) rather than two (price and quantity).