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Fines, Leniency and Rewards in Antitrust: an Experiment


  • Bigoni, Maria
  • Fridolfsson, Sven-Olof
  • Le Coq, Chloé
  • Spagnolo, Giancarlo


This paper reports results from an experiment studying how fines, leniency programs and reward schemes for whistleblowers affect cartel formation and prices. Antitrust without leniency reduces cartel formation, but increases cartel prices: subjects use costly fines as (altruistic) punishments. Leniency further increases deterrence, but stabilizes surviving cartels: subjects appear to anticipate harsher times after defections as leniency reduces recidivism and lowers post-conviction prices. With rewards, cartels are reported systematically and prices finally fall. If a ringleader is excluded from leniency, deterrence is unaffected but prices grow. Differences between treatments in Stockholm and Rome suggest culture may affect optimal law enforcement.

Suggested Citation

  • Bigoni, Maria & Fridolfsson, Sven-Olof & Le Coq, Chloé & Spagnolo, Giancarlo, 2009. "Fines, Leniency and Rewards in Antitrust: an Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 7417, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7417

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Lefouili, Yassine & Roux, Catherine, 2012. "Leniency programs for multimarket firms: The effect of Amnesty Plus on cartel formation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 624-640.
    2. Normann, Hans-Theo & Rösch, Jürgen & Schultz, Luis Manuel, 2012. "Do buyer groups facilitate collusion?," DICE Discussion Papers 74, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    3. Rau, Holger & Clemens, Georg, 2014. "Do Leniency Policies facilitate Collusion? Experimental Evidence," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100509, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    4. Fonseca, Miguel A. & Normann, Hans-Theo, 2012. "Explicit vs. tacit collusion—The impact of communication in oligopoly experiments," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1759-1772.
    5. Clemens, Georg & Rau, Holger A., 2014. "Do leniency policies facilitate collusion? Experimental evidence," DICE Discussion Papers 130, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    6. Maria Bigoni & Sven-Olof Fridolfsson & Chloé Le Coq & Giancarlo Spagnolo, 2015. "Trust, Leniency, and Deterrence," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 31(4), pages 663-689.
    7. Choi, Jay Pil & Gerlach, Heiko, 2012. "Global cartels, leniency programs and international antitrust cooperation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 528-540.
    8. Abbink, Klaus & Dasgupta, Utteeyo & Gangadharan, Lata & Jain, Tarun, 2014. "Letting the briber go free: An experiment on mitigating harassment bribes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 17-28.
    9. Normann, Hans-Theo & Rösch, Jürgen & Schultz, Luis Manuel, 2014. "Do buyer groups facilitate collusion?," DICE Discussion Papers 74 [rev.], University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    10. Johannes Paha, 2013. "The Impact of Persistent Shocks and Concave Objective Functions on Collusive Behavior," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201328, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    11. Bos Iwan & Wandschneider Frederick, 2011. "Cartel Ringleaders and the Corporate Leniency Program," Research Memorandum 038, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).

    More about this item


    Cartels; Collusion; Competition policy; Coordination; Corporate crime; Desistance; Deterrence; Law enforcement; Organized crime; Price-fixing; Punishment; Whistleblowers;

    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • K21 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Antitrust Law
    • L41 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Monopolization; Horizontal Anticompetitive Practices

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