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Communication in vertical markets: Experimental evidence

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  • Moellers, Claudia
  • Normann, Hans-Theo
  • Snyder, Christopher M.

Abstract

An upstream monopolist supplying competing downstream firms may fail to monopolize the market because it is unable to commit not to behave opportunistically. We build on previous experimental studies of this well-known commitment problem by introducing communication. Allowing the upstream firm to chat privately with each downstream firm reduces total offered quantity from near the Cournot level (observed in the absence of communication) halfway toward the monopoly level. Allowing all firms to chat together openly results in complete monopolization. Downstream firms obtain such a bargaining advantage from open communication that all of the gains from monopolizing the market accrue to them. A simple structural model of Nash-in-Nash bargaining fits the pattern of shifting surpluses well. Using third-party coders, unsupervised text mining, among other approaches, we uncover features of the rich chat data that are correlated with market outcomes. We conclude with a discussion of the antitrust implications of open communication in vertical markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Moellers, Claudia & Normann, Hans-Theo & Snyder, Christopher M., 2017. "Communication in vertical markets: Experimental evidence," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 214-258.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:indorg:v:50:y:2017:i:c:p:214-258
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ijindorg.2016.10.002
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    5. Bonnet, Céline & Schain, Jan Philip, 2017. "An empirical analysis of mergers: Efficiency gains and impact on consumer prices," DICE Discussion Papers 244, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    6. Chrysovalantou Milliou & Apostolis Pavlou, 2020. "Foreign direct investment in vertically related markets," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 53(1), pages 284-320, February.
    7. Eguia, Jon X. & Llorente-Saguer, Aniol & Morton, Rebecca & Nicolò, Antonio, 2018. "Equilibrium selection in sequential games with imperfect information," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 465-483.
    8. Werner Güth & Manfred Stadler & Alexandra Zaby, 2020. "Capacity precommitment, communication, and collusive pricing: theoretical benchmark and experimental evidence," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 49(2), pages 495-524, June.
    9. Stefan P. Penczynski, 2019. "Using machine learning for communication classification," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 22(4), pages 1002-1029, December.
    10. Fourberg, Niklas, 2018. "Let's lock them in: Collusion under consumer switching costs," DICE Discussion Papers 296, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    11. Zoë B. Cullen & Ricardo Perez-Truglia, 2018. "The Salary Taboo: Privacy Norms and the Diffusion of Information," NBER Working Papers 25145, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Commitment; Communication; Experiments; Vertical restraints;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • L42 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Vertical Restraints; Resale Price Maintenance; Quantity Discounts
    • K21 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Antitrust Law
    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General

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