IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

What Does an Oligopoly Maximize?


  • Slade, Margaret E


A monopolist maximizes a well-defined objective function, monetary profit. In a competitive industry, although each individual pursues selfish objectives, the market behaves as if an agent was maximizing an objective function, social welfare. Can we say the same for an oligopoly? Do firms pursuing selfish objectives and behaving strategically act as if an agent was maximizing a 'fictitious' objective function? Necessary and sufficient conditions for Nash equilibria of static and state-space games to be observationally equivalent to single optimization problems are derived. Nash equilibria of the game that are not maxima of the function are shown to be generically unstable. Copyright 1994 by Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Slade, Margaret E, 1994. "What Does an Oligopoly Maximize?," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(1), pages 45-61, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jindec:v:42:y:1994:i:1:p:45-61

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to JSTOR subscribers. See for details.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716, January.
    2. Bolton, Patrick & Scharfstein, David S, 1990. "A Theory of Predation Based on Agency Problems in Financial Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 93-106, March.
    3. Paul Beaudry & Michel Poitevin, 1994. "The Commitment Value of Contracts under Dynamic Renegotiation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(4), pages 501-517, Winter.
    4. Mathias Dewatripont, 1988. "Commitment Through Renegotiation-Proof Contracts with Third Parties," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(3), pages 377-390.
    5. Mitchell A. Petersen & Raghuram G. Rajan, 1995. "The Effect of Credit Market Competition on Lending Relationships," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(2), pages 407-443.
    6. Bensaid, B. & Gary-Bobo, J., 1991. "On the commitment value of contracts under renegotiation constraints," CORE Discussion Papers 1991002, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    7. Mathias Dewatripont, 1988. "Commitment through renegotiation-proof contacts with third parties," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9569, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    8. Michael L. Katz, 1991. "Game-Playing Agents: Unobservable Contracts as Precommitments," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(3), pages 307-328, Autumn.
    9. Maskin, Eric & Tirole, Jean, 1992. "The Principal-Agent Relationship with an Informed Principal, II: Common Values," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(1), pages 1-42, January.
    10. Bolton, Patrick, 1990. "Renegotiation and the dynamics of contract design," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(2-3), pages 303-310, May.
    11. Caillaud, Bernard & Jullien, B & Picard, P, 1995. "Competing Vertical Structures: Precommitment and Renegotiation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(3), pages 621-646, May.
    12. Bensaid, Bernard & Gary-Bobo, Robert J, 1993. "Commitment Value of Contracts under Renegotiation Constraints," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(6), pages 1423-1429, November.
    13. Douglas Gale & Martin Hellwig, 1985. "Incentive-Compatible Debt Contracts: The One-Period Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(4), pages 647-663.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:jindec:v:42:y:1994:i:1:p:45-61. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.