Allotment and subcontracting are the two alternative mechanisms enabling the participation of SMEs in procurement. We compare these two alternatives in the context of a procurement contract awarded by a first-price sealed-bid auction. When the winning large firm is constrained with respect to the degree of subcontracting, we show that only a reduction of the chosen SME's profit can reduce the expected cost of the contract. However, when the large firm is allowed to choose the subcontracting level, subcontracting can be a Pareto dominating mechanism, i.e. simultaneously increasing both firms' profits and reducing the expected total cost of the contract.
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