Ethics, Adverse Selection, Target Method of Sale Strategies, and Akerlof’s “Lemons” Problem

Carol L. Cain, Gary M. Fleischman, Antonio J. Macias, Juan Manuel Sanchez


This study examines the acquisition dynamics associated with the target management’s choice to initiate the sale of the firm using the auction method. Specifically, we examine opportunistic merger and acquisition (M&A) dynamics related to the target-initiated method-of-sale decision (auctions vs. one-on-one negotiations), as a noteworthy example of Akerlof’s (1970) theory of the market for lemons. While we find a strong positive relationship between proxies of adverse selection risk and the likelihood of target initiation, robustness tests suggest target initiation itself is a unique indicator of information asymmetry in an acquisition environment. We also find that most target-initiated transactions follow an auction as the method of sale, which increases target information asymmetry advantages. While wealth accrued to both bidders and targets increases in non-target-initiated auctions, this benefit disappears when the target initiates the acquisition, causing both bidders and targets to suffer wealth losses. According to Akerlof’s theory, these wealth losses represent the cost of perceived dishonesty due to enhanced adverse section risk, which provides noteworthy implications for both business and society.

Full Text:




  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2021 Carol Cain, Gary M. Fleischman, Antonio J. Macias, Juan Manuel Sanchez

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Accounting and Finance Research
ISSN 1927-5986 (Print)   ISSN 1927-5994 (Online) Email:

Copyright © Sciedu Press

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.