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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. Jose Apesteguia & Steffen Huck & Jörg Oechssler & Simon Weidenholzer, 2007. "Imitation and the Evolution of Walrasian Behavior: Theoretically Fragile but Behaviorally Robust," Working Papers 0461, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics, revised Nov 2007.
  2. K. Schlag, 2010. "Why Imitate, and if so, How? Exploring a Model of Social Evolution," Levine's Working Paper Archive 454, David K. Levine.
  3. Paul Milgrom & John Roberts, 2010. "Adaptive and Sophisticated Learning in Repeated Normal-Form Games," Levine's Working Paper Archive 418, David K. Levine.
  4. Apestgeguia, Jose & Huck, Steffen & Oechssler, Jörg, 2005. "Imitation - Theory and Experimental Evidence," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 54, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
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  7. G. Ellison & D. Fudenberg, 2010. "Rules of Thumb for Social Learning," Levine's Working Paper Archive 435, David K. Levine.
  8. Theo Offerman & Jan Potters & Joep Sonnemans, 1997. "Imitation and Belief Learning in an Oligopoly Experiment," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 97-116/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  9. Schlag, Karl H., 1998. "Why Imitate, and If So, How?, : A Boundedly Rational Approach to Multi-armed Bandits," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 130-156, January.
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  13. Eshel, Ilan & Samuelson, Larry & Shaked, Avner, 1998. "Altruists, Egoists, and Hooligans in a Local Interaction Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 157-79, March.
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Cited by:
  1. repec:hal:wpaper:hal-00817201 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Bigoni, Maria & Fort, Margherita, 2013. "Information and Learning in Oligopoly: An Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 7125, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  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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