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Oligopoly Price Discrimination: The Role of Inventory Controls

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Abstract

Inventory controls, used most notably by airlines, are sales limits assigned to individual prices. While typically viewed as a tool to manage demand uncertainty, we argue that inventory controls can also facilitate intertemporal price discrimination in oligopoly. In our model, competing firms first choose quantity and then choose prices in a series of advance-purchase markets. When demand becomes less elastic over time, as is the case in airline markets, a monopolist can easily price discriminate; however, we show that oligopoly firms generally cannot. We also show that using inventory controls allows oligopoly firms to set increasing prices, regardless of whether or not demand is uncertain.

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  • James D. Dana Jr. & Kevin R. Williams, 2018. "Oligopoly Price Discrimination: The Role of Inventory Controls," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 2136R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Sep 2018.
  • Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:2136r
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    1. Guillermo Gallego & Garrett van Ryzin, 1994. "Optimal Dynamic Pricing of Inventories with Stochastic Demand over Finite Horizons," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 40(8), pages 999-1020, August.
    2. van den Berg, Anita & Bos, Iwan & Herings, P. Jean-Jacques & Peters, Hans, 2012. "Dynamic Cournot duopoly with intertemporal capacity constraints," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 174-192.
    3. Eden, Benjamin, 1990. "Marginal Cost Pricing When Spot Markets Are Complete," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1293-1306, December.
    4. Paul Klemperer & Margaret Meyer, 1986. "Price Competition vs. Quantity Competition: The Role of Uncertainty," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(4), pages 618-638, Winter.
    5. James D. Dana Jr., 1998. "Advance-Purchase Discounts and Price Discrimination in Competitive Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(2), pages 395-422, April.
    6. Ata, Barış & Dana, James D., 2015. "Price discrimination on booking time," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 175-181.
    7. Akan, Mustafa & Ata, Barış & Dana, James D., 2015. "Revenue management by sequential screening," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 159(PB), pages 728-774.
    8. Lawrence R. Weatherford & Samuel E. Bodily, 1992. "A Taxonomy and Research Overview of Perishable-Asset Revenue Management: Yield Management, Overbooking, and Pricing," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 40(5), pages 831-844, October.
    9. David M. Kreps & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1983. "Quantity Precommitment and Bertrand Competition Yield Cournot Outcomes," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(2), pages 326-337, Autumn.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Capacity-pricing games; Intertemporal price discrimination; Oligopoly models; Inventory controls;

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

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