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The Relative Efficacy of Price Announcements and Express Communication for Collusion: Experimental Findings

  • Joseph E. Harrington, Jr


    (Dept of Business Economics & Public Policy, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Roberto Hernan-Gonzalez


    (Dept of Economic Theory and History, Universidad de Granada)

  • Praveen Kujal


    (Middlesex University)

Collusion is when firms coordinate on suppressing competition, and coordination typically requires that firms communicate in some manner. This study conducts experiments to determine what modes of communications are able to produce and sustain collusion and how the efficacy of communication depends on firm heterogeneity and the number of firms. We consider two different communication treatments: non-binding price announcements and unrestricted written communication. Our main findings are that price announcements allow subjects to coordinate on a high price but only under duopoly and when firms are symmetric. While price announcements do result in higher prices when subjects are asymmetric, there is little evidence that they are coordinating their behavior. When subjects are allowed to engage in unrestricted communication, coordination on high prices occurs whether they are symmetric or asymmetric. We find that the incremental value to express communication (compared to price announcements) is greater when firms are asymmetric and there are more firms.

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Paper provided by Chapman University, Economic Science Institute in its series Working Papers with number 13-30.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:chu:wpaper:13-30
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  1. José Apesteguia & Martin Dufwenberg & Reinhard Selten, 2003. "Blowing the Whistle," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse9_2003, University of Bonn, Germany.
  2. Friedman, Daniel & Huck, Steffen & Oprea, Ryan & Weidenholzer, Simon, 2012. "From imitation to collusion: Long-run learning in a low-information environment," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2012-301, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  3. Bigoni, Maria & Fridolfsson, Sven-Olof & Le Coq, Chloe & Spagnolo, Giancarlo, 2011. "Trust, Leniency and Deterrence," Working Paper Series 859, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 11 Dec 2014.
  4. Maura P. Doyle & Christopher M. Snyder, 1997. "Information sharing and competition in the motor vehicle industry," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1997-4, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  7. Mason, Charles F & Phillips, Owen R & Nowell, Clifford, 1992. "Duopoly Behavior in Asymmetric Markets: An Experimental Evaluation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(4), pages 662-70, November.
  8. Jeanine Miklós-Thal, 2011. "Optimal collusion under cost asymmetry," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 46(1), pages 99-125, January.
  9. 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.
  10. Christoph Engel, 2011. "Dictator games: a meta study," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 583-610, November.
  11. Hoffman Elizabeth & McCabe Kevin & Shachat Keith & Smith Vernon, 1994. "Preferences, Property Rights, and Anonymity in Bargaining Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 346-380, November.
  12. Fonseca, Miguel A. & Normann, Hans-Theo, 2012. "Explicit vs. tacit collusion: The impact of communication in oligopoly experiments," DICE Discussion Papers 65, Heinrich‐Heine‐Universität Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
  13. MiguelA. Fonseca & Hans-Theo Normann, 2008. "Mergers, Asymmetries and Collusion: Experimental Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(527), pages 387-400, 03.
  14. Andersson, Ola & Wengström, Erik, 2007. "More Communication, Less Cooperation: Experimental Evidence from Multi-stage Games," Working Papers 2007:4, Lund University, Department of Economics, revised 24 Nov 2010.
  15. Christian Rojas, 2012. "The role of demand information and monitoring in tacit collusion," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 43(1), pages 78-109, 03.
  16. Maria Bigoni & Sven-Olof Fridolfsson & Chloé Le Coq & Giancarlo Spagnolo, 2012. "fines, leniency, and rewards in antitrust," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 43(2), pages 368-390, 06.
  17. Charles F. Mason & Owen R. Phillips, 1997. "Information And Cost Asymmetry In Experimental Duopoly Markets," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(2), pages 290-299, May.
  18. Harrington, Joseph E, Jr, 1991. "The Determination of Price and Output Quotas in a Heterogeneous Cartel," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 32(4), pages 767-92, November.
  19. Davis, Douglas D & Holt, Charles A, 1998. "Conspiracies and Secret Discounts in Laboratory Markets," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(448), pages 736-56, May.
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