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Price Competition Under Cost Uncertainty: A Laboratory Analysis

  • Klaus Abbink
  • Jordi Brandts

We study the relation between the number of firms and price-cost margins under price competition with uncertainty about competitors' costs. We report an experiment in which two, three, and four identical firms repeatedly interact in this environment. In line with the theoretical prediction, market prices decrease with the number of firms, but on average stay above marginal costs. Pricing is more aggressive than in equilibrium. Absolute and relative surplus increases with the number of firms. Total surplus is close to the equilibrium level, because enhanced consumer surplus through lower prices is counteracted by occasional displacements of the most cost-efficient firm. (JEL C90, C72, D43, D83, L13) Copyright 2005, Oxford University Press.

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Article provided by Western Economic Association International in its journal Economic Inquiry.

Volume (Year): 43 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 (July)
Pages: 636-648

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Handle: RePEc:oup:ecinqu:v:43:y:2005:i:3:p:636-648
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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. Dufwenberg, Martin & Gneezy, Uri & Goeree, Jacob K. & Nagel, Rosemarie, 2002. "Price Floors and Competition," Research Papers in Economics 2002:13, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
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  7. Reinhard Selten & Jose Apesteguia, 2002. "Experimentally Observed Imitation and Cooperation in Price Competition on the Circle," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse19_2002, University of Bonn, Germany.
  8. Plott, Charles R & Smith, Vernon L, 1978. "An Experimental Examination of Two Exchange Institutions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(1), pages 133-53, February.
  9. Steffen Huck & Hans-Theo Normann & Joerg Oechssler, 1997. "Learning in Cournot Oligopoly - An Experiment," Game Theory and Information 9707009, EconWPA, revised 22 Jul 1997.
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  16. Dastidar, Krishnendu Ghosh, 1995. "On the Existence of Pure Strategy Bertrand Equilibrium," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 19-32, January.
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