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‘Just one of us’: consumers playing oligopoly in mixed markets


  • Marco Marini


  • Alberto Zevi



Consumer cooperatives represent a highly successful example of democratic form of enterprises operating in developed countries. They are usually medium to large-scale companies competing with the profit-maximizing firms in the retail sector. This paper describes this situation as a mixed oligopoly in which consumer cooperatives maximize the utility of consumer-members and, in return, refund them with a share of the profits corresponding to the ratio of their individual spending to the cooperative's total sales. We show that when consumers possess quasi-linear preferences over a bundle of symmetrically differentiated goods, and companies operate using a linear technology, the presence of consumer cooperatives positively affects total industry output, as well as welfare. The effect of cooperatives on welfare proves to be even more significant when goods are either complements or highly differentiated, and when competition is à la Cournot rather than à la Bertrand.
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Suggested Citation

  • Marco Marini & Alberto Zevi, 2011. "‘Just one of us’: consumers playing oligopoly in mixed markets," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 104(3), pages 239-263, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jeczfn:v:104:y:2011:i:3:p:239-263
    DOI: 10.1007/s00712-011-0219-7

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Michael Kopel & Marco Marini, 2014. "Strategic delegation in consumer cooperatives under mixed oligopoly," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 113(3), pages 275-296, November.
    2. repec:eee:ecosys:v:41:y:2017:i:1:p:86-97 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Marco A. MARINI & Paolo POLIDORI & Desiree TEOBALDELLI & Alberto ZEVI, 2015. "Welfare Enhancing Coordination In Consumer Cooperatives Under Mixed Oligopoly," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 86(3), pages 505-527, September.
    4. Saha, Souresh, 2014. "Firm's objective function and product and process R&D," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 484-494.
    5. Michael Kopel & Marco Marini, 2012. "Optimal Compensation Structure In Consumer Cooperatives Under Mixed Oligopoly," Working Papers 0512, CREI Università degli Studi Roma Tre, revised 2012.
    6. Kopel, Michael & Brand, Björn, 2012. "Socially responsible firms and endogenous choice of strategic incentives," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 982-989.
    7. Rudy Santore & Youping Li & Stephen Cotten, 2015. "Colluding with a conscience," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 114(3), pages 255-269, April.

    More about this item


    Consumer cooperatives; Profit-maximizing firms; Mixed oligopoly; L13; L21; L22; L31; L33; L81; P13;

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • P13 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Cooperative Enterprises
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles


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