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The Quiet Life of a Monopolist: The Efficiency Losses of Monopoly Reconsidered

In this paper we study the efficiency losses of monopoly by analyzing a model where a firm's total costs of production decrease with the manager's effort to control costs. We consider two separate cases with regard to ownership and control: (1) the owner of the firm manages the firm himself; and (2) the owner hires a manager to operate the firm. We demonstrate that even in the case where the owner manages the firm, the level of effort exerted by the owner-manager of a monopoly is not first-best. Interestingly, the productive inefficiency of monopoly in this case may be caused by too much rather than too little effort. In such a situation, moreover, the separation of ownership and control can mitigate the productive inefficiency of monopoly, thus raising the intriguing possibility that managerial slack can actually improve the efficiency of monopoly equilibrium. To phrase our results in Hicks'(1935) terminology, a monopolist does not necessarily live a quiet life, and a quiet life is not necessarily a bad thing from the perspective of economic efficiency.

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Paper provided by Carleton University, Department of Economics in its series Carleton Economic Papers with number 08-04.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: 02 Jun 2008
Date of revision: Sep 2011
Publication status: Published: Revised version in Frontiers of Economics in China, Vol. 6, No. 3 (September 2011), pp. 389–412
Handle: RePEc:car:carecp:08-04
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  1. Sanford J Grossman & Oliver D Hart, 2001. "An Analysis of the Principal-Agent Problem," Levine's Working Paper Archive 391749000000000339, David K. Levine.
  2. Gilbert, Richard J & Newbery, David M G, 1982. "Preemptive Patenting and the Persistence of Monopoly," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 514-26, June.
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  12. Delbono, Flavio & Denicolo, Vincenzo, 1990. "R & D investment in a symmetric and homogeneous oligopol : Bertrand vs Cournot," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 297-313, June.
  13. Boone, J., 2000. "Competition," Discussion Paper 2000-104, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  14. Michael Raith, 2003. "Competition, Risk, and Managerial Incentives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1425-1436, September.
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  17. A. Michael Spence, 1975. "Monopoly, Quality, and Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 6(2), pages 417-429, Autumn.
  18. Martin Stephen, 1993. "Endogenous Firm Efficiency in a Cournot Principal-Agent Model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 445-450, April.
  19. Piccolo, Salvatore & D'Amato, Marcello & Martina, Riccardo, 2008. "Product market competition and organizational slack under profit-target contracts," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 1389-1406, November.
  20. Rogerson, William P, 1985. "Repeated Moral Hazard," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(1), pages 69-76, January.
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