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On the Design of Leniency Programs

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  • Zhijun Chen
  • Patrick Rey

Abstract

Leniency programs contribute to destabilizing collusion but can also be abused and generate perverse effects. This paper develops a simple model capturing this trade-off, which we use to relate the optimal leniency policy (the carrot) to the effectiveness of investigations (the stick). We show that it is always desirable to offer some leniency before an investigation is launched; it is also optimal to offer some leniency once an investigation is underway when investigations are unlikely to succeed in uncovering cartels, absent self-reporting. Our analysis also confirms the usefulness of restricting leniency to the first informant only; in contrast, it does not support prohibiting leniency for repeat offenders.

Suggested Citation

  • Zhijun Chen & Patrick Rey, 2013. "On the Design of Leniency Programs," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56(4), pages 917-957.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:doi:10.1086/674011
    DOI: 10.1086/674011
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Zhijun Chen & Patrick Rey, 2013. "On the Design of Leniency Programs," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56(4), pages 917-957.
    2. Lefouili, Yassine & Roux, Catherine, 2012. "Leniency programs for multimarket firms: The effect of Amnesty Plus on cartel formation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 624-640.
    3. Motta, Massimo & Polo, Michele, 2003. "Leniency programs and cartel prosecution," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 347-379, March.
    4. Jeroen Hinloopen & Adriaan Soetevent, 2008. "From Overt to Tacit Collusion," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 08-059/1, Tinbergen Institute.
    5. repec:dau:papers:123456789/13637 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Joseph E. Harrington & Myong-Hun Chang, 2009. "Modeling the Birth and Death of Cartels with an Application to Evaluating Competition Policy," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(6), pages 1400-1435, December.
    7. Steven Shavell & A. Mitchell Polinsky, 2000. "The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 45-76, March.
    8. Joseph E. Harrington, 2008. "Optimal Corporate Leniency Programs," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(2), pages 215-246, June.
    9. Aubert, Cecile & Rey, Patrick & Kovacic, William E., 2006. "The impact of leniency and whistle-blowing programs on cartels," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 1241-1266, November.
    10. Frezal, Sylvestre, 2006. "On optimal cartel deterrence policies," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 1231-1240, November.
    11. Jeroen Hinloopen & Adriaan R. Soetevent, 2008. "Laboratory evidence on the effectiveness of corporate leniency programs," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(2), pages 607-616, June.
    12. Sauvagnat, Julien, 2010. "Prosecution and Leniency Programs: a Fool's Game," TSE Working Papers 10-188, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
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