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From Imitation to Collusion: Long-run Learning in a Low-Information Environment

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  • Daniel Friedman
  • Steffen Huck
  • Ryan Oprea
  • Simon Weidenholzer

Abstract

We study long-run learning in an experimental Cournot game with no explicit information about the payoff function. Subjects see only the quantities and payoffs of each oligopolist after every period. In line with theoretical predictions and previous experimental findings, duopolies and triopolies both reach highly competitive levels, with price approaching marginal cost within 50 periods. Using the new ConG software, we extend the horizon to 1,200 periods, far beyond that previously investigated. Already after 100 periods we observe a qualitative change in behavior, and quantity choices start to drop. Without pausing at the Cournot-Nash level quantities continue to drop, eventually reaching almost fully collusive levels in duopolies and often reaching deep into collusive territory for triopolies. Fitted models of individual adjustment suggest that subjects switch from imitation of the most profitable rival to other behavior that, intentionally or otherwise, facilitates collusion via effective punishment and forgiveness. Remarkably, subjects never learn the best-reply correspondence of the one-shot game. Our results suggest a new explanation for the emergence of cooperation.
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  • Daniel Friedman & Steffen Huck & Ryan Oprea & Simon Weidenholzer, 2012. "From Imitation to Collusion: Long-run Learning in a Low-Information Environment," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000457, David K. Levine.
  • Handle: RePEc:cla:levarc:786969000000000457
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Karl H.Schlag, 2015. "Who gives Direction to Statistical Testing? Best Practice meets Mathematically Correct Tests," Vienna Economics Papers 1512, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
    2. Peiran Jiao, 2015. "The Double-Channeled Effects of Experience on Individual Investment Decisions: Experimental Evidence," Economics Series Working Papers 766, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    3. Helland, Leif & Moen, Espen R. & Preugschat, Edgar, 2017. "Information and coordination frictions in experimental posted offer markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 53-74.
    4. Nobuyuki Hanaki & Angela Sutan & Marc Willinger, 2016. "The Strategic Environment Effect in Beauty Contest Games," GREDEG Working Papers 2016-05, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.
    5. repec:eee:gamebe:v:106:y:2017:i:c:p:209-226 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Jörg Oechssler & Alex Roomets & Stefan Roth, 2016. "From imitation to collusion: a replication," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(1), pages 13-21, May.
    7. Bigoni, Maria & Fort, Margherita, 2013. "Information and learning in oligopoly: An experiment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 192-214.
    8. Luhan, Wolfgang J. & Poulsen, Anders U. & Roos, Michael W.M., 2017. "Real-time tacit bargaining, payoff focality, and coordination complexity: Experimental evidence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, pages 687-699.
    9. Harrington, Joseph E. & Hernan Gonzalez, Roberto & Kujal, Praveen, 2016. "The relative efficacy of price announcements and express communication for collusion: Experimental findings," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 251-264.
    10. Segismundo S. Izquierdo & Luis R. Izquierdo, 2015. "The “Win-Continue, Lose-Reverse” Rule In Oligopolies: Robustness Of Collusive Outcomes," Advances in Complex Systems (ACS), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 18(05n06), pages 1-23, August.
    11. Nax, Heinrich H. & Burton-Chellew, Maxwell N. & West, Stuart A. & Young, H. Peyton, 2016. "Learning in a black box," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 68714, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    12. repec:zbw:espost:168050 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Oechssler, Jörg & Roomets, Alex & Roth, Stefan, 2015. "From Imitation to Collusion - A Comment," Working Papers 0588, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
    14. Nax, Heinrich H. & Burton-Chellew, Maxwell N. & West, Stuart A. & Young, H. Peyton, 2016. "Learning in a black box," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 1-15.

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    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection

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