It is unrealistic to assume that all nodes in an ad hoc wireless network would be willing to participate in cooperative communication, especially if their desired Quality-of-Service (QoS) is achievable via direct transmission. An incentive-based auction mechanism is presented to induce cooperative behavior in wireless networks with emphasis on users with asymmetrical channel fading conditions. A single-object second-price auction is studied for cooperative partner selection in single-carrier networks. In addition, a multiple-object bundled auction is analyzed for the selection of multiple simultaneous partners in a cooperative orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) setting. For both cases, we characterize equilibrium outage probability performance, seller revenue, and feedback bounds. The auction-based partner selection allows winning bidders to achieve their desired QoS while compensating the seller who assists them. At the local level sellers aim for revenue maximization, while connections are drawn to min-max fairness at the network level. The proposed strategies for partner selection in self-configuring cooperative wireless networks are shown to be robust under conditions of uncertainty in the number of users requesting cooperation, as well as minimal topology and channel link information available to individual users.