Uncertainty about uncertainty and delay in bargaining

Uncertainty about uncertainty and delay in bargaining

Econometrica. January
2005, Vol. 73, Issue 1, Pages 69-91

We study a one-sided offers bargaining game in which the buyer has private information about the value of the object and the seller has private information about his beliefs about the buyer’s valuation. We show that this uncertainty about uncertainties dramatically changes the set of outcomes. In particular, second order beliefs can lead to a delay in reaching agreement even when the seller makes frequent offers. We show that not all types of second order beliefs lead to a delay. When the buyer assigns positive probability to the seller knowing the buyer’s value, then delay not only can occur, but it must occur for a class of equilibria. However, in all other cases delay will never occur.