IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

How Market Fragmentation Can Facilitate Collusion


  • Kühn, Kai-Uwe


When regulated markets are liberalized, economists always stress the benefits of fragmenting existing capacities among more firms. This is because oligopoly models typically imply that a larger number of firms generates stronger competition. I show in this paper that this intuition may fail under collusion. When individual firms are capacity constrained relative to total demand, the fragmentation of capacity facilitates collusion and increases the highest sustainable collusive price. This result can explain the finding in Sweeting (2005) that dramatic fragmentation of generation capacity in the English electricity industry led to increasing price cost margins.

Suggested Citation

  • Kühn, Kai-Uwe, 2006. "How Market Fragmentation Can Facilitate Collusion," CEPR Discussion Papers 5948, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5948

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Val Eugene Lambson, 1987. "Optimal Penal Codes in Price-setting Supergames with Capacity Constraints," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(3), pages 385-397.
    2. Motta,Massimo, 2004. "Competition Policy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521016919, May.
    3. Davidson, Carl & Deneckere, Raymond J, 1990. "Excess Capacity and Collusion," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 31(3), pages 521-541, August.
    4. Hay, George A & Kelley, Daniel, 1974. "An Empirical Survey of Price Fixing Conspiracies," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(1), pages 13-38, April.
    5. Green, Richard J & Newbery, David M, 1992. "Competition in the British Electricity Spot Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 929-953, October.
    6. Fraas, Arthur G & Greer, Douglas F, 1977. "Market Structure and Price Collusion: An Empirical Analysis," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(1), pages 21-44, September.
    7. Compte, Olivier & Jenny, Frederic & Rey, Patrick, 2002. "Capacity constraints, mergers and collusion," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 1-29, January.
    8. Green, Richard J, 1996. "Increasing Competition in the British Electricity Spot Market," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(2), pages 205-216, June.
    9. William A. Brock & José A. Scheinkman, 1985. "Price Setting Supergames with Capacity Constraints," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(3), pages 371-382.
    10. Valerie Y. Suslow, 2005. "Cartel contract duration: empirical evidence from inter-war international cartels," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(5), pages 705-744, October.
    11. Posner, Richard A, 1970. "A Statistical Study of Antitrust Enforcement," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 365-419, October.
    12. Margaret C. Levenstein & Valerie Y. Suslow, 2002. "What Determines Cartel Success?," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2002-01, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    13. Arocena, Pablo & Kuhn, Kai-Uwe- & Regibeau, Pierre, 1999. "Regulatory reform in the Spanish electricity industry: a missed opportunity for competition," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(7), pages 387-399, July.
    14. Asch, Peter & Seneca, Joseph J, 1975. "Characteristics of Collusive Firms," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(3), pages 223-237, March.
    15. Kühn, Kai-Uwe & Rimler, Michael S, 2006. "The Comparative Statics of Collusion Models," CEPR Discussion Papers 5742, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    16. Richard Schmalensee & Bennett W. Golub, 1984. "Estimating Effective Concentration in Deregulated Wholesale Electricity Markets," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(1), pages 12-26, Spring.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Bertrand-Edgeworth competition; collusion; industry restructuring; market fragmentation;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5948. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.