Auctioning IT Contracts with Renegotiable Scope

He Huang, Zhipeng Li, De Liu, Hongyan Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Motivated by challenges facing IT procurement, this paper studies a hybrid procurement model in which a reverse auction of a fixed-price IT outsourcing contract may be followed by renegotiation to extend the contract’s scope. In this model, the buyer balances the needs to incentivize noncontractible vendor investment and to curb the winning vendor’s information rent by choosing the initial project scope and the buyer’s investment in the quality of the project. We find that a buyer may benefit from inducing ex post renegotiation to motivate vendor investment, especially when the winning vendor has high bargaining power and the quality uncertainty is low. Broadening the initial scope reduces information rent but leaves little room for ex post renegotiation and, hence, discourages vendor investment, whereas increasing the buyer’s investment has opposite effects. Interestingly, the two measures can be strategic substitutes or complements depending on the likelihood of the renegotiation and the two parties’ bargaining powers. The buyer may strategically set a low initial project scope and high investment to incentivize renegotiation and vendor investment, which may explain why many IT outsourcing projects start small and allow expansions. Our findings also generate several testable predictions for IT outsourcing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6003-6023
Number of pages21
JournalManagement Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
History: Accepted by Kartik Hosanagar, information systems. Funding: H. Huang was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) [Grants 71871032, 72225008]. Z. Li was supported by the NSFC [Grants 71801122, 72161029]. H. Xu was supported by the NSFC [Grant 71972019]. Supplemental Material: The online appendix is available at

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 INFORMS.


  • incomplete contracts
  • IT outsourcing
  • renegotiation
  • reverse auctions
  • specific investments


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