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Two are few and four are many: number effects in experimental oligopolies

  • Huck, Steffen
  • Normann, Hans-Theo
  • Oechssler, Jorg

In this paper we investigate how the competitiveness of Cournot markets varies with the number of firms in an industry. We review previous Cournot experiments in the literature. Additionally, we conduct a new series of experiments studying oligopolies with two, three, four, and five firms in a unified frame. With two firms we find some collusion. Three-firm oligopolies tend to produce outputs at the Nash level. Markets with four or five firms are never collusive and typically settle at or above the Cournot outcome. Some of those markets are actually quite competitive with outputs close to the Walrasian outcome.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 53 (2004)
Issue (Month): 4 (April)
Pages: 435-446

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:53:y:2004:i:4:p:435-446
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  1. Dufwenberg, M. & Gneezy, U., 1998. "Price Competition and Market COncentration: An Experimental Study," Papers 1998-08, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  2. Steffen Huck & Hans-Theo Normann & Joerg Oechssler, 1997. "Learning in Cournot Oligopoly - An Experiment," Game Theory and Information 9707009, EconWPA, revised 22 Jul 1997.
  3. Feinberg, Robert M & Husted, Thomas A, 1993. "An Experimental Test of Discount-Rate Effects on Collusive Behaviour in Duopoly Markets," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 153-60, June.
  4. Steffen Huck & Hans-Theo Normann & Jörg Oechssler, 2002. "Stability of the Cournot process - experimental evidence," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 123-136.
  5. Selten,Reinhard & Mitzkewitz,Michael & Uhlich,Gerald, . "Duopoly strategies programmed by experienced players," Discussion Paper Serie B 106, University of Bonn, Germany.
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  7. Huck, Steffen & Muller, Wieland & Normann, Hans-Theo, 2001. "Stackelberg Beats Cournot: On Collusion and Efficiency in Experimental Markets," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(474), pages 749-65, October.
  8. Rassenti, Stephen & Reynolds, Stanley S. & Smith, Vernon L. & Szidarovszky, Ferenc, 2000. "Adaptation and convergence of behavior in repeated experimental Cournot games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 117-146, February.
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  11. Ronald Harstad & Stephen Martin & Hans-Theo Normann, 1997. "Experimental Tests of Consciously Parallel Behaviour in Oligopoly," CIE Discussion Papers 1997-07, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Industrial Economics.
  12. Franciosi, Robert, et al, 1995. "Fairness: Effect on Temporary and Equilibrium Prices in Posted-Offer Markets," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(431), pages 938-50, July.
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  15. Mason, Charles F. & Phillips, Owen R. & Redington, Douglas B., 1991. "The role of gender in a non-cooperative game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 215-235, March.
  16. Huck, Steffen & Normann, Hans-Theo & Oechssler, Jorg, 2000. "Does information about competitors' actions increase or decrease competition in experimental oligopoly markets?," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 39-57, January.
  17. Benson, Bruce L. & Faminow, M. D., 1988. "The impact of experience on prices and profits in experimental duopoly markets," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 345-365, June.
  18. Brown-Kruse, Jamie, et al, 1994. "Bertrand-Edgeworth Competition in Experimental Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 343-72, March.
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