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Comment on the NRMP’s “Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program ” Proposed to Replace the Post-Match Scramble

By Peter A. Coles, Clayton R. Featherstone, John William Hatfield, Fuhito Kojima, Scott Duke Kominers, Muriel Niederle, Parag A. Pathak and Alvin E. Roth


Historic precedent and economic principles suggest that the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) proposed for the NRMP Scramble will lead to unsatisfactory outcomes by forcing participants to make unnecessarily difficult decisions and giving them strong incentives to break the rules laid out in the SOAP proposal. We suggest, as an alternative Scramble mechanism, that the NRMP run a “Second Match ” for the Scramble participants using rules similar to those of the Main Match. The SOAP Proposal The SOAP proposal calls for up to eight rounds in which programs may make take-it-or-leave-it offers to applicants. During each round, programs send offers to applicants at the beginning of the round; no further offers may be made until the round is completed. At the end of each round, all current offers expire; hence applicants must decide whether to accept an offer without knowledge of which offers may be received in later rounds. In short, SOAP institutionalizes so-called exploding offers, that is, offers which are only valid for a fixed period, after which they “explode.” Implementing the current SOAP plan would create an orderly channel for exploding offers, thereby limiting the split-second decision-making faced in an unregulated scramble. However, we believe the use of even organized exploding offers will cause participants to have to make needlessly difficult decisions, and will give them incentives to try to circumvent some of the SOAP guidelines.

Year: 2013
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