Asymmetric auction theory predicts that weak bidders will bid more aggressively when facing strong bidders, while strong bidders will bid less aggressively when facing weak bidders. This paper finds empirical evidence to support this hypothesis regarding the behavior of weak bidders in construction auctions. Examining a comprehensive data set of more than 7,500 Utah construction procurement auctions, we find that entrants bid more aggressively than do incumbents for most subcontractor types. Reflecting their inexperience and uncertainty regarding the true cost of projects, entrants’ bids are found to be more widely dispersed around the central tendency of bids.
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