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The Fragility of Commitment

Author

Listed:
  • John Morgan

    () (Haas School of Business and Department of Economics, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California 94720)

  • Felix Várdy

    () (Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California 94720; and International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC 20431)

Abstract

We show that the value of commitment is fragile in many standard games. When the follower faces a small cost to observe the leader's action, equilibrium payoffs are identical to the case where the leader's actions are unobservable. Applications of our result include standard Stackelberg--Cournot and differentiated product Bertrand games, as well as forms of indirect commitment, highlighted in Bulow et al. [Bulow J, Geanakoplos J, Klemperer P (1985) Multimarket oligopoly: Strategic substitutes and strategic complements. J. Political Econom. 93:488--511]. Weakening full rationality in favor of boundedly rational solution concepts such as quantal-response equilibrium restores the value of commitment. This paper was accepted by Peter Wakker, decision analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • John Morgan & Felix Várdy, 2013. "The Fragility of Commitment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 59(6), pages 1344-1353, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:59:y:2013:i:6:p:1344-1353
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1120.1639
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bagwell, Kyle, 1995. "Commitment and observability in games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 271-280.
    2. Richard Mckelvey & Thomas Palfrey, 1998. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Extensive Form Games," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 1(1), pages 9-41, June.
    3. McKelvey Richard D. & Palfrey Thomas R., 1995. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Normal Form Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 6-38, July.
    4. Michael R. Baye & John Morgan, 2004. "Price Dispersion in the Lab and on the Internet: Theory and Evidence," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 35(3), pages 448-466, Autumn.
    5. Bulow, Jeremy I & Geanakoplos, John D & Klemperer, Paul D, 1985. "Multimarket Oligopoly: Strategic Substitutes and Complements," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(3), pages 488-511, June.
    6. Jacob Goeree & Charles Holt & Thomas Palfrey, 2005. "Regular Quantal Response Equilibrium," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 8(4), pages 347-367, December.
    7. Morgan, John & Vardy, Felix, 2007. "The value of commitment in contests and tournaments when observation is costly," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 326-338, August.
    8. van Damme, Eric & Hurkens, Sjaak, 1997. "Games with Imperfectly Observable Commitment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 21(1-2), pages 282-308, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cuihong Fan & Byoung Heon Jun & Elmar G. Wolfstetter, 2019. "Induced Price Leadership and (Counter-)Spying Rivals' Play under Incomplete Information," CESifo Working Paper Series 7476, CESifo Group Munich.

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