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Preemption Games: Theory and Experiment


  • Steven T. Anderson
  • Daniel Friedman
  • Ryan Oprea


Several impatient investors with private costs C i face an indivisible irreversible investment opportunity whose value V is governed by geometric Brownian motion. The first investor i to seize the opportunity receives the entire payoff, V-C i . We characterize the symmetric Bayesian Nash equilibrium for this game. A laboratory experiment confirms the model's main qualitative predictions: competition drastically lowers the value at which investment occurs; usually the lowest-cost investor preempts the other investors; observed investment patterns in competition (unlike monopoly) are quite insensitive to changes in the Brownian parameters. Support is more qualified for the prediction that markups decline with cost. (JEL C73, D44, D82, G31)

Suggested Citation

  • Steven T. Anderson & Daniel Friedman & Ryan Oprea, 2010. "Preemption Games: Theory and Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1778-1803, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:100:y:2010:i:4:p:1778-1803 Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.100.4.1778

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Huck, Steffen & Normann, Hans-Theo & Oechssler, Jorg, 2004. "Two are few and four are many: number effects in experimental oligopolies," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 53(4), pages 435-446, April.
    2. Ryan Oprea & Daniel Friedman & Steven T. Anderson, 2009. "Learning to Wait: A Laboratory Investigation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(3), pages 1103-1124.
    3. Levin, Dan & Peck, James, 2003. " To Grab for the Market or to Bide One's Time: A Dynamic Model of Entry," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(3), pages 536-556, Autumn.
    4. Dufwenberg, Martin & Gneezy, Uri, 2000. "Price competition and market concentration: an experimental study," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 7-22, January.
    5. Robert McDonald & Daniel Siegel, 1986. "The Value of Waiting to Invest," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(4), pages 707-727.
    6. Andreas Park & Lones Smith, 2004. "Caller Number Five: Timing Games that Morph From One Form to Another," 2004 Meeting Papers 871, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Lambrecht, Bart & Perraudin, William, 2003. "Real options and preemption under incomplete information," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 619-643, February.
    8. Timothy Cason & Daniel Friedman, 1999. "Learning in a Laboratory Market with Random Supply and Demand," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(1), pages 77-98, August.
    9. Henry, Claude, 1974. "Investment Decisions Under Uncertainty: The "Irreversibility Effect."," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(6), pages 1006-1012, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Azevedo, Alcino & Paxson, Dean, 2014. "Developing real option game models," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 237(3), pages 909-920.
    2. Bobtcheff, Catherine & Bolte, Jérôme & Mariotti, Thomas, 2013. "Researcher's Dilemma," TSE Working Papers 13-377, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Sep 2015.
    3. Ciril Bosch-Rosa, 2014. "That's how we roll: an experiment on rollover risk," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2014-048, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
    4. repec:eee:jeborg:v:145:y:2018:i:c:p:495-510 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies


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