IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Explicit vs. tacit collusion—The impact of communication in oligopoly experiments

  • Fonseca, Miguel A.
  • Normann, Hans-Theo

We explore the difference between explicit and tacit collusion by investigating the impact communication has in experimental markets. For Bertrand oligopolies with various numbers of firms, we compare pricing behavior with and without the possibility to communicate among firms. We find strong evidence that talking helps to obtain higher profits for any number of firms, however, the gain from communicating is non-monotonic in the number of firms, with medium-sized industries having the largest additional profit from talking. We also find that industries continue to collude successfully after communication is disabled. Communication supports firms in coordinating on collusive pricing schemes, and it is also used for conflict mediation.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014292112001237
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 56 (2012)
Issue (Month): 8 ()
Pages: 1759-1772

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:56:y:2012:i:8:p:1759-1772
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/eer

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Jeannette Brosig & Joachim Weimann & Axel Ockenfels, 2003. "The Effect of Communication Media on Cooperation," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 4(2), pages 217-241, 05.
  2. Bigoni, Maria & Fridolfsson, Sven-Olof & Le Coq, Chloé & Spagnolo, Giancarlo, 2009. "Fines, Leniency and Rewards in Antitrust: an Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 7417, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Dufwenberg, Martin & Gneezy, Uri, 1998. "Price Competition and Market Concentration: An Experimental Study," Working Paper Series 1998:8, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  4. Ola Andersson & Erik Wengström, 2007. "Do Antitrust Laws Facilitate Collusion? Experimental Evidence on Costly Communication in Duopolies," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 109(2), pages 321-339, 06.
  5. Ivaldi, Marc & Jullien, Bruno & Rey, Patrick & Seabright, Paul & Tirole, Jean, 2003. "The Economics of Tacit Collusion," IDEI Working Papers 186, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  6. Susan Athey & Kyle Bagwell & Chris Sanchirico, 2004. "Collusion and Price Rigidity," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(2), pages 317-349.
  7. Farrell, Joseph & Maskin, Eric, 1987. "Renegotiation in Repeated Games," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt9wv3h5jb, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  8. José Apesteguía & Martin Dufwenberg & Reinhard Selten, 2003. "Blowing the Whistle," Documentos de Trabajo - Lan Gaiak Departamento de Economía - Universidad Pública de Navarra 0303, Departamento de Economía - Universidad Pública de Navarra, revised 2003.
  9. Holt, Charles A, 1985. "An Experimental Test of the Consistent-Conjectures Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 314-25, June.
  10. Posner, Richard A, 1970. "A Statistical Study of Antitrust Enforcement," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 365-419, October.
  11. Stephen Davies & Matthew Olczak & Heather Coles, 2007. "Tacit Collusion, Firm Asymmetries and Numbers: Evidence from EC Merger Cases," Working Papers 07-7, Centre for Competition Policy, University of East Anglia.
  12. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  13. Michael D. Whinston, 2008. "Lectures on Antitrust Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262731878, June.
  14. Susan Athey & Kyle Bagwell, 2007. "Collusion with Persistent Cost Shocks," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000898, UCLA Department of Economics.
  15. Jordi Brandts & David J. Cooper, 2007. "It's What You Say, Not What You Pay: An Experimental Study of Manager–Employee Relationships in Overcoming Coordination Failure," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(6), pages 1223-1268, December.
  16. Joseph E. Harrington, 2004. "Post-Cartel Pricing During Litigation," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(4), pages 517-533, December.
  17. Waichman, Israel & Requate, Till & Siang, Ch'ng Kean, 2010. "Pre-play communication in Cournot competition: An experiment with students and managers," Economics Working Papers 2010,09, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Department of Economics.
  18. Erik O. Kimbrough & Vernon L. Smith & Bart J. Wilson, 2008. "Historical Property Rights, Sociality, and the Emergence of Impersonal Exchange in Long-Distance Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 1009-39, June.
  19. Costa-Gomes, Miguel A., 2002. "A Suggested Interpretation of Some Experimental Results on Preplay Communication," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 104(1), pages 104-136, May.
  20. Isaac, R. Mark & Ramey, Valerie & Williams, Arlington W., 1984. "The effects of market organization on conspiracies in restraint of trade," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 191-222, June.
  21. Pedro Dal B�, 2005. "Cooperation under the Shadow of the Future: Experimental Evidence from Infinitely Repeated Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1591-1604, December.
  22. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:3:y:2002:i:6:p:1-11 is not listed on IDEAS
  23. David Genesove & Wallace P. Mullin, 2001. "Rules, Communication, and Collusion: Narrative Evidence from the Sugar Institute Case," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 379-398, June.
  24. Robert Feinberg & Christopher Snyder, 2002. "Collusion with secret price cuts: an experimental investigation," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 3(6), pages 1-11.
  25. Kai-Uwe Kühn, 2012. "How Market Fragmentation Can Facilitate Collusion," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(5), pages 1116-1140, October.
  26. Susan Athey & Kyle Bagwell, 1999. "Optimal Collusion with Private Information," Working papers 99-17, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  27. Crawford, Vincent P & Sobel, Joel, 1982. "Strategic Information Transmission," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1431-51, November.
  28. G. Camera & M. Casari & M. Bigoni, 2011. "Communication, commitment, and deception in social dilemmas: experimental evidence," Working Papers wp751, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  29. Frohlich, Norman & Oppenheimer, Joe, 1998. "Some consequences of e-mail vs. face-to-face communication in experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 389-403, April.
  30. Davies, Stephen & Olczak, Matthew & Coles, Heather, 2011. "Tacit collusion, firm asymmetries and numbers: Evidence from EC merger cases," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 221-231, March.
  31. Holt, Charles A & Langan, Loren W & Villamil, Anne P, 1986. "Market Power in Oral Double Auctions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 24(1), pages 107-23, January.
  32. Charness, Gary & Dufwenberg, Martin, 2003. "Promises & Partnership," Research Papers in Economics 2003:3, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  33. Douglas Bernheim, B. & Ray, Debraj, 1989. "Collective dynamic consistency in repeated games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(4), pages 295-326, December.
  34. Shorrocks, A F, 1978. "The Measurement of Mobility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(5), pages 1013-24, September.
  35. Compte, Olivier & Jenny, Frederic & Rey, Patrick, 2002. "Capacity constraints, mergers and collusion," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 1-29, January.
  36. Cason, Timothy N., 1995. "Cheap talk price signaling in laboratory markets," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 183-204, June.
  37. Isaac, R Mark & Walker, James M, 1988. "Communication and Free-Riding Behavior: The Voluntary Contribution Mechanism," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(4), pages 585-608, October.
  38. Joseph E. Harrington, Jr. & Andrzej Skrzypacz, 2009. "Private Monitoring and Communication in Cartels: Explaining Recent Collusive Practices," Economics Working Paper Archive 555, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  39. Jeroen Hinloopen & Adriaan R. Soetevent, 2008. "Laboratory evidence on the effectiveness of corporate leniency programs," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(2), pages 607-616.
  40. Gary Charness & Martin Dufwenberg, 2006. "Promises and Partnership," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(6), pages 1579-1601, November.
  41. Joseph Farrell & Matthew Rabin, 1996. "Cheap Talk," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(3), pages 103-118, Summer.
  42. Daniel Balliet, 2010. "Communication and Cooperation in Social Dilemmas: A Meta-Analytic Review," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 54(1), pages 39-57, February.
  43. Aoyagi, Masaki & Fréchette, Guillaume, 2009. "Collusion as public monitoring becomes noisy: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(3), pages 1135-1165, May.
  44. Gerhard Riener, 2012. "Inequality and mobility of household incomes in Europe: evidence from the ECHP," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(3), pages 279-288, January.
  45. MiguelA. Fonseca & Hans-Theo Normann, 2008. "Mergers, Asymmetries and Collusion: Experimental Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(527), pages 387-400, 03.
  46. Hay, George A & Kelley, Daniel, 1974. "An Empirical Survey of Price Fixing Conspiracies," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(1), pages 13-38, April.
  47. Crawford, Vincent, 1998. "A Survey of Experiments on Communication via Cheap Talk," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 286-298, February.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:56:y:2012:i:8:p:1759-1772. 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: (Zhang, Lei)

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.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.