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From Imitation to Collusion: Long-run Learning in a Low-Information Environment

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  • Simon Weidenholzer

    ()

  • Daniel Friedman
  • Steffen Huck
  • Ryan Oprea

Abstract

We study long-run learning in an experimental Cournot game with no explicit information about the payo function. Subjects see only the quantities and payos of each oligopolist after every period. In line with theoretical predictions and previous experimental ndings, duopolies and triopolies both reach highly competitive levels, with price approaching marginal cost within 50 periods. Using the new ConG software, we extend the horizon to 1,200 periods, far beyond that previously investigated. Already after 100 periods we observe a qualitative change in behavior, and quantity choices start to drop. Without pausing at the Cournot-Nash level quantities continue to drop, eventually reaching almost fully collusive levels in duopolies and often reaching deep into collusive territory for triopolies. Fitted models of individual adjustment suggest that subjects switch from imitation of the most protable rival to other behavior that, intentionally or otherwise, facilitates collusion via eective punishment and forgiveness. Remarkably, subjects never learn the best-reply correspondence of the one-shot game. Our results suggest a new explanation for the emergence of cooperation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Essex, Department of Economics in its series Economics Discussion Papers with number 715.

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Date of creation: 19 Jul 2012
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Handle: RePEc:esx:essedp:715

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  1. José Apesteguía & Steffen Huck & Jorg Oechssler, 2003. "Imitation-Theory and Experimental Evidence-," Documentos de Trabajo - Lan Gaiak Departamento de Economía - Universidad Pública de Navarra 0306, Departamento de Economía - Universidad Pública de Navarra.
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Cited by:
  1. M. Bigoni & M. Fort, 2013. "Information and Learning in Oligopoly: an Experiment," Working Papers wp860, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  2. Bigoni, Maria & Fort, Margherita, 2013. "Information and learning in oligopoly: An experiment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 192-214.
  3. Joseph E. Harrington, Jr & Roberto Hernan-Gonzalez & Praveen Kujal, 2013. "The Relative Efficacy of Price Announcements and Express Communication for Collusion: Experimental Findings," Working Papers 13-30, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.

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