Online Art Auctions à la Française and à l'Américaine

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SAGE Publications


This study extends previous research into online auctions by introducing a comparative cross-cultural dimension and focusing on heterogeneous goods. Samples of artwork auctions taken from two independent eBay sites—eBay USA and eBay France—are analyzed to detect culturally specific patterns of seller and bidder behavior. The analysis of these two samples reveals systematic differences in the art auctioned, winning bids, starting prices, and price dynamics, as well as bidders' “flocking” behavior and sellers' reliance on reserve auctions and other risk-management strategies. American sellers tend to offer more valuable items and to garner much better closing prices than French sellers. French auctions, by contrast, are dominated by domestic sellers; further, the number of bidders is more highly correlated with the final sale price in French than in American auctions. Finally, the data regarding art auctions disclose contrasting orientations to eBay's reputation system in that French bidders tend to be more attentive to negative feedback than Americans.