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Price Competition Under Cost Uncertainty: A Laboratory Analysis

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  • Klaus Abbink
  • Jordi Brandts

Abstract

We study the relation between the number of firms and price-cost margins under price competition with uncertainty about competitors' costs. We report an experiment in which two, three, and four identical firms repeatedly interact in this environment. In line with the theoretical prediction, market prices decrease with the number of firms, but on average stay above marginal costs. Pricing is more aggressive than in equilibrium. Absolute and relative surplus increases with the number of firms. Total surplus is close to the equilibrium level, because enhanced consumer surplus through lower prices is counteracted by occasional displacements of the most cost-efficient firm. (JEL C90, C72, D43, D83, L13) Copyright 2005, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Western Economic Association International in its journal Economic Inquiry.

Volume (Year): 43 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 (July)
Pages: 636-648

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Handle: RePEc:oup:ecinqu:v:43:y:2005:i:3:p:636-648

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  1. Theo Offerman & Jan Potters & Joep Sonnemans, 2002. "Imitation and Belief Learning in an Oligopoly Experiment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 973-997.
  2. Selten, Reinhard & Apesteguia, Jose, 2005. "Experimentally observed imitation and cooperation in price competition on the circle," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 171-192, April.
  3. Dufwenberg, Martin & Gneezy, Uri, 1998. "Price Competition and Market Concentration: An Experimental Study," Working Paper Series 1998:8, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  4. Steffen Huck & Hans-Theo Normann & Jörg Oechssler, 2001. "Two are Few and Four are Many: Number Effects in Experimental Oligopolies," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse12_2001, University of Bonn, Germany.
  5. Morgan, John & Orzen, Henrik & Sefton, Martin, 2006. "An experimental study of price dispersion," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 134-158, January.
  6. Huck, Steffen & Normann, Hans-Theo & Oechssler, Jorg, 1999. "Learning in Cournot Oligopoly--An Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(454), pages C80-95, March.
  7. Plott, Charles R & Smith, Vernon L, 1978. "An Experimental Examination of Two Exchange Institutions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(1), pages 133-53, February.
  8. Elmar WOLFSTETTER, 1994. "Auctions: An Introduction," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 1994,13, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
  9. Abbink, Klaus & Abdolkarim Sadrieh, 1995. "RatImage - research Assistance Toolbox for Computer-Aided Human Behavior Experiments," Discussion Paper Serie B 325, University of Bonn, Germany.
  10. Douglas D. Davis & Charles A. Holt, 1994. "Market Power and Mergers in Laboratory Markets with Posted Prices," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(3), pages 467-487, Autumn.
  11. Robert Moir, 1998. "A Monte Carlo Analysis of the Fisher Randomization Technique: Reviving Randomization for Experimental Economists," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 87-100, June.
  12. Dastidar, Krishnendu Ghosh, 1995. "On the Existence of Pure Strategy Bertrand Equilibrium," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 19-32, January.
  13. Spulber, Daniel F, 1995. "Bertrand Competition When Rivals' Costs Are Unknown," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(1), pages 1-11, March.
  14. Dufwenberg, Martin & Gneezy, Uri & Goeree, Jacob K. & Nagel, Rosemarie, 2002. "Price Floors and Competition," Research Papers in Economics 2002:13, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  15. Abbink, Klaus & Brandts, Jordi, 2008. "24. Pricing in Bertrand competition with increasing marginal costs," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 1-31, May.
  16. Brown-Kruse, Jamie, et al, 1994. "Bertrand-Edgeworth Competition in Experimental Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 343-72, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Goeree, Jacob K. & Offerman, Theo & Sloof, Randolph, 2005. "Demand Reduction and Pre-emptive Bidding in Multi-Unit License Auctions," CEPR Discussion Papers 4899, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Mulder, Machiel & Haan, Marco A. & Dijkstra, Peter T., 2014. "Industry structure and collusion with uniform yardstick competition: theory and experiments," Research Report 14010-EEF, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
  3. Reinhard Selten & Jose Apesteguia, 2002. "Experimentally Observed Imitation and Cooperation in Price Competition on the Circle," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse19_2002, University of Bonn, Germany.
  4. Jordi Brandts & Pablo Guill?, 2004. "Collusion and Fights in an Experiment with Price-Setting Firms and Production in Advance," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 618.04, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).

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