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Price competition under cost uncertainty: A laboratory analysis

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  • Klaus Abbink
  • Jordi Brandts

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Abstract

We study the relation between the number of firms and price-cost margins under price competition with uncertainty about competitors' costs. We present results of 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 less aggressive in duopolies than in triopolies and tetrapolies. However, independently from the number of firms, pricing is more aggressive than in the theoretical equilibrium. Both the absolute and the relative surpluses increase with the number of firms. Total surplus is close to the equilibrium level, since enhanced consumer surplus through lower prices is counteracted by occasional displacements of the most efficient firm in production.

Suggested Citation

  • Klaus Abbink & Jordi Brandts, 2002. "Price competition under cost uncertainty: A laboratory analysis," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 550.02, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  • Handle: RePEc:aub:autbar:550.02
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Dijkstra, Peter T. & Haan, Marco A. & Mulder, Machiel, 2017. "Industry structure and collusion with uniform yardstick competition: Theory and experiments," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 1-33.
    2. Jacob Goeree & Theo Offerman & Randolph Sloof, 2013. "Demand reduction and preemptive bidding in multi-unit license auctions," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 16(1), pages 52-87, March.
    3. Selten, Reinhard & Apesteguia, Jose, 2005. "Experimentally observed imitation and cooperation in price competition on the circle," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 171-192, April.
    4. Heymann, D. & Kawamura, E. & Perazzo, R. & Zimmermann, M.G., 2014. "Behavioral heuristics and market patterns in a Bertrand–Edgeworth game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 124-139.
    5. Jordi Brandts & Pablo Guill?, 2004. "Collusion and Fights in an Experiment with Price-Setting Firms and Production in Advance," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 618.04, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Laboratory experiments; industrial organisation; oligopoly; price competition;

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

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