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The Merger Paradox and why Aspiration Levels Let it Fail in the Laboratory

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  • Steffen Huck
  • Kai A. Konrad
  • Wieland Müller
  • Hans-Theo Normann

Abstract

We study the merger paradox, a relative of Harsanyi's bargaining paradox, in an experiment. We examine bilateral mergers in experimental Cournot markets with initially three or four firms. Standard Cournot-Nash equilibrium predicts total outputs well. However, merged firms produce significantly more output than their competitors. As a result, mergers are not unprofitable. By analysing control treatments, we provide an explanation for these results based on the notion of aspiration levels, and show that the same logic also operates when a new firm enters a market. These results have some general consequences for adaptive play in changing environments. Copyright 2007 The Author(s). Journal compilation Royal Economic Society 2007.

Suggested Citation

  • Steffen Huck & Kai A. Konrad & Wieland Müller & Hans-Theo Normann, 2007. "The Merger Paradox and why Aspiration Levels Let it Fail in the Laboratory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(522), pages 1073-1095, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:117:y:2007:i:522:p:1073-1095
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    Cited by:

    1. Siegfried Berninghaus & Werner Güth & M. Levati & Jianying Qiu, 2011. "Satisficing search versus aspiration adaptation in sales competition: experimental evidence," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 40(1), pages 179-198, February.
    2. Axel Sonntag & Daniel John Zizzo, 2015. "Institutional authority and collusion," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 13-37, July.
    3. Mark Armstrong & Steffen Huck, 2011. "Behavioral Economics as Applied to Firms: A Primer," Antitrust Chronicle, Competition Policy International, vol. 1.
    4. Kai A.Konrad, 2010. "Merger Profitability in Industries with Brand Portfolios and Loyal Customers," Korean Economic Review, Korean Economic Association, vol. 26, pages 5-26.
    5. Gamal Atallah, 2015. "Multi-Firm Mergers with Leaders and Followers," Working Papers E1501E, University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.
    6. Han, Johann & Kairies-Schwarz, Nadja & Vomhof, Markus, 2016. "Quality competition and hospital mergers: An experiment," Ruhr Economic Papers 609, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    7. Brito Duarte & Catalão-Lopes Margarida, 2011. "Small Fish Become Big Fish: Mergers in Stackelberg Markets Revisited," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-20, May.
    8. Goppelsroeder, Marie, 2009. "Entry in Collusive Markets: An Experimental Study," MPRA Paper 14707, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Eisenkopf, Gerald, 2014. "The impact of management incentives in intergroup contests," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 42-61.
    10. Raab, Philippe & Schipper, Burkhard C., 2009. "Cournot competition between teams: An experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 691-702, November.
    11. Gerald Eisenkopf, 2013. "The Impact of Management Incentives in Intergroup Contests," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2013-26, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
    12. Brandts, Jordi & Giritligil, Ayça Ebru, 2008. "Entry and market selection of firms: A laboratory study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(3-4), pages 593-612, December.
    13. Gerald Eisenkopf, 2013. "The Impact of Management Incentives in Intergroup Contests," TWI Research Paper Series 87, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz.
    14. Eisenkopf, Gerald, 2013. "Management Impact in an Experimental Intergroup Contest," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79863, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    15. Shakun Datta Mago & Emmanuel Dechenaux, 2009. "Price leadership and firm size asymmetry: an experimental analysis," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 12(3), pages 289-317, September.
    16. Chernomaz, Kirill, 2012. "On the effects of joint bidding in independent private value auctions: An experimental study," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 690-710.

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