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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 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.

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Paper provided by Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC) in its series UFAE and IAE Working Papers with number 550.02.

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Length: 18
Date of creation: 01 Nov 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:aub:autbar:550.02
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  1. Abbink, Klaus & Brandts, Jordi, 2008. "24. Pricing in Bertrand competition with increasing marginal costs," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 1-31, May.
  2. Dufwenberg, Martin & Gneezy, Uri, 1999. "Price Competition and Market Concentration: An experimental Study," Research Papers in Economics 1999:4, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  3. Offerman, Theo & Potters, Jan & Sonnemans, Joep, 2002. "Imitation and Belief Learning in an Oligopoly Experiment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(4), pages 973-97, October.
  4. Huck, Steffen & Normann, Hans-Theo & Oechssler, Jorg, 1999. "Learning in Cournot Oligopoly--An Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(454), pages C80-95, March.
  5. Wolfstetter, Elmar, 1996. " Auctions: An Introduction," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(4), pages 367-420, December.
  6. 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.
  7. Morgan, John & Orzen, Henrik & Sefton, Martin, 2006. "An experimental study of price dispersion," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 134-158, January.
  8. Spulber, Daniel F, 1995. "Bertrand Competition When Rivals' Costs Are Unknown," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(1), pages 1-11, March.
  9. 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.
  10. Steffen Huck & Hans-Theo Normann & Jörg Oechssler, 2001. "Two are Few and Four are Many: Number Effects in Experimental Oligopolies," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse12_2001, University of Bonn, Germany.
  11. Martin Dufwenberg & Uri Gneezy & Jacob Goeree & Rosemarie Nagel, 2007. "Price floors and competition," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 211-224, October.
  12. Dastidar, Krishnendu Ghosh, 1995. "On the Existence of Pure Strategy Bertrand Equilibrium," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 19-32, January.
  13. Robert Moir, 1998. "A Monte Carlo Analysis of the Fisher Randomization Technique: Reviving Randomization for Experimental Economists," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 87-100, June.
  14. Abbink, Klaus & Abdolkarim Sadrieh, 1995. "RatImage - research Assistance Toolbox for Computer-Aided Human Behavior Experiments," Discussion Paper Serie B 325, University of Bonn, Germany.
  15. Douglas D. Davis & Charles A. Holt, 1994. "Market Power and Mergers in Laboratory Markets with Posted Prices," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(3), pages 467-487, Autumn.
  16. Brown-Kruse, Jamie, et al, 1994. "Bertrand-Edgeworth Competition in Experimental Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 343-72, March.
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