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Trust and Deterrence


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


This paper presents results from a laboratory experiment on the channels through which different law enforcement strategies deter cartel formation. With leniency policies offering immunity to the first reporting party a high fine is the main determinant of deterrence, having a strong effect even when the probability of exogenous detection is zero. Deterrence appears then mainly driven by 'distrust', the fear of partners deviating and reporting. Absent leniency, the probability of detection and the expected fine matter the most, and low fines are exploited to punish defections. The results appear relevant to several other crimes sharing cartels' strategic features, including corruption and financial fraud.

Suggested Citation

  • Bigoni, Maria & Fridolfsson, Sven-Olof & Le Coq, Chloé & Spagnolo, Giancarlo, 2012. "Trust and Deterrence," CEPR Discussion Papers 9002, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9002

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Martin Dufwenberg & Giancarlo Spagnolo, 2015. "Legalizing Bribe Giving," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 53(2), pages 836-853, April.
    2. Hinloopen, Jeroen & Onderstal, Sander, 2014. "Going once, going twice, reported! Cartel activity and the effectiveness of antitrust policies in experimental auctions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 317-336.
    3. Marvao, Catarina & Spagnolo, Giancarlo & Buccirossi, Paolo, 2015. "Leniency and Damages," SITE Working Paper Series 32, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics, revised 13 Jan 2016.

    More about this item


    Antitrust; Betrayal; Cartels; Collusion; Distrust; Fines; Leniency; Whistleblowers;

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • K21 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Antitrust Law
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • L41 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Monopolization; Horizontal Anticompetitive Practices

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