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Prices as Signals of Quality in Duopoly


  • Mark N. Herzendorf

    (Bureau of Economics, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C.)

  • Per Baltzer Overgaard

    (School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus)


This paper studies price signaling in a multi-sender context with two competing firms. Either firm may offer a high or a low quality, but potential customers are, initially, incompletely informed about the quality available at a given outlet. In particular, consumers do not know a priori whether the goods offered are vertically differentiated or homogenous, and, in the latter case, whether they are of high or low quality. We show that fully revealing equilibria are ruled out by a natural equilibrium refinement, whereas partial revelation of information is possible in equilibrium. However, we note that a non-revealing outcome with standard Bertrand-features (pricing at cost) seems likely, whether the goods offered are vertically differentiated or homogenous.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark N. Herzendorf & Per Baltzer Overgaard, 2001. "Prices as Signals of Quality in Duopoly," CIE Discussion Papers 2001-01, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Industrial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuieci:2001-01

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Xavier Freixas & Roger Guesnerie & Jean Tirole, 1985. "Planning under Incomplete Information and the Ratchet Effect," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(2), pages 173-191.
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    Cited by:

    1. Adriani, Fabrizio & Deidda, Luca G., 2011. "Competition and the signaling role of prices," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 412-425, July.
    2. Dubovik, Andrei & Janssen, Maarten C.W., 2012. "Oligopolistic competition in price and quality," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 120-138.
    3. Helmut Bester & Juri Demuth, 2015. "Signalling Rivalry and Quality Uncertainty in a Duopoly," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 135-154, June.
    4. Daughety, Andrew F. & Reinganum, Jennifer F., 2007. "Competition and confidentiality: Signaling quality in a duopoly when there is universal private information," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 94-120, January.
    5. Janssen, Maarten C.W. & Roy, Santanu, 2010. "Signaling quality through prices in an oligopoly," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 192-207, January.
    6. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2008. "Imperfect competition and quality signalling," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(1), pages 163-183.
    7. Müller, Wieland & Spiegel, Yossi & Yehezkel, Yaron, 2009. "Oligopoly limit-pricing in the lab," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 373-393, May.
    8. Levent Çelik, 2008. "Strategic Informative Advertising in a Horizontally Differentiated Duopoly," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp359, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    9. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2008. "Products Liability, Signaling and Disclosure," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 164(1), pages 106-126, March.
    10. Ben Youssef Adel & Abderrazak Chema, 2009. "Multiplicity of Eco-Labels, Competition, and the Environment," Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Organization, De Gruyter, vol. 7(2), pages 1-24, December.
    11. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2008. "Communicating quality: a unified model of disclosure and signalling," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(4), pages 973-989.

    More about this item


    Duopoly signaling; Quality uncertainty; Pooling vs. separation;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality

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