Building economic machines: The FCC auctions

The auctions of the Federal Communication Commission, designed in 1994 to sell spectrum licences, are one of the few widely acclaimed and copied cases of economic engineering to date. This paper includes a detailed narrative of the process of designing, testing and implementing the FCC auctions, focusing in particular on the role played by game theoretical modelling and laboratory experimentation. Some general remarks about the scope, interpretation and use of rational choice models open and conclude the paper.
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