Information transparency in business-to-business auction markets: The role of winner identity disclosure

Yixin Lu, Alok Gupta, Wolfgang Ketter, Eric Van Heck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


One of the central issues in auction design is how much information should be disclosed to bidders. In this paper, we examine bidder’s identity disclosure in sequential business-to-business (B2B) auctions. Specifically, we compare two information disclosure policies, one that publicly discloses winners’ identities (the status quo) and an alternative policy that conceals winners’ identities. Using a large-scale field experiment in the Dutch flower auction market, we find that concealing winners’ identities can significantly increase the average winning price and thereby raise the seller’s revenue. We further explore the underlying mechanism that drives the observed effect. The empirical analysis of bidding behavior in these auctions suggests that bidders tend to imitate some of their competitors who have won in previous rounds of auctions and shade their bids accordingly. Concealing winners’ identities can disrupt such imitation heuristic, which in turn mitigates the price-declining trend in sequential rounds. Our findings have important implications for the design of information disclosure policies in B2B auction markets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4261-4279
Number of pages19
JournalManagement Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Chris Forman (department editor), the associate editor, and three anonymous reviewers for valuable suggestions. This research would not have been possible without the support of Royal FloraHolland via the ?Veilen met Advies? project. The authors also thank the constructive feedback from the participants in presentations at the 2014 Conference on Information Systems and Technology (CIST 2014) and the 2014 International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS 2014).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 INFORMS.


  • Auction design
  • Bidding heuristics
  • Field experiment
  • Identity disclosure
  • Information transparency
  • Sequential auctions
  • Tacit collusion


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