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Upstream uncertainty and countervailing power

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  • Smith, Howard
  • Thanassoulis, John

Abstract

We study vertical contracting through bargaining between an upstream supplier and downstream retailers. We consider the effect of supplier uncertainty as to final volumes on the efficient bargains struck. Uncertainty causes retail price effects: large buyers wield countervailing power (deliver lower retail prices) if upstream marginal costs are decreasing. If there were no upstream uncertainty, downstream retail prices would be independent of buyer size. With enough uncertainty large buyers have buyer power also (secure advantageous input prices). Downstream mergers, or organic growth of a downstream firm, change the uncertainty facing the upstream supplier and so result in “waterbed effects” on other buyers. We show that uncertainty for suppliers can be generated by upstream competition.

Suggested Citation

  • Smith, Howard & Thanassoulis, John, 2012. "Upstream uncertainty and countervailing power," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 483-495.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:indorg:v:30:y:2012:i:6:p:483-495
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ijindorg.2012.07.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Chakraborty, Ratula & Dobson, Paul W. & Seaton, Jonathan S. & Waterson, Michael, 2015. "Pricing in inflationary times: The penny drops," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 71-86.
    2. Daniel Herold, 2017. "Information Exchange in Retail Markets with Uncertainty about Downstream Costs," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201750, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    3. Özlem Bedre-Defolie & Stéphane Caprice, 2011. "Merger efficiency and welfare implications of buyer power," ESMT Research Working Papers ESMT-11-07, ESMT European School of Management and Technology.
    4. Claire Chambolle & Clémence Christin, 2017. "New Product Introduction and Slotting Fees," Working Papers hal-01458949, HAL.
    5. Köhler, Christian, 2014. "Bargaining in vertical relationships and suppliers' R&D profitability," ZEW Discussion Papers 14-087, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    6. Stéphane Caprice & Patrick Rey, 2015. "Buyer Power from Joint Listing Decision," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 125(589), pages 1677-1704, December.
    7. Aparicio-Fenoll, Ainhoa, 2015. "The effect of product market competition on job security," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 145-159.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Countervailing power; Buyer power; Waterbed effects; Bargaining interface; Supply chain uncertainty; Vertical contracts;

    JEL classification:

    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • L42 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Vertical Restraints; Resale Price Maintenance; Quantity Discounts

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