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Horizontal Agreements and R&D Complementarities: Merger versus RJV


  • Ben Ferrett

    () (School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, UK)

  • Joanna Poyago-Theotoky

    (School of Economics, La Trobe University, Australia)


We study the decision of two firms within an oligopoly concerning whether to enter into a horizontal agreement to exploit complementarities between their R&D activities and, if so, whether to merge or form a research joint venture (RJV). In contrast to horizontal merger, there is a probability that an RJV contract will fail to enforce R&D sharing. We find, first, that a horizontal agreement always arises. The insiders’ merger/RJV choice involves a trade-off. While merger offers certainty that R&D complementarities will be exploited, it leads to a profit-reducing reaction by outsiders on the product market, where competition is Cournot. Greater brand similarity and contract enforceability (“quality”) both favour RJV, while greater R&D complementarity favours merger. Interestingly, the insiders may choose to merge even when RJV contracts are always enforceable, and they may opt to form an RJV even when the likelihood of enforceability is negligible.

Suggested Citation

  • Ben Ferrett & Joanna Poyago-Theotoky, 2012. "Horizontal Agreements and R&D Complementarities: Merger versus RJV," Discussion Paper Series 2012_04, Department of Economics, Loughborough University, revised Apr 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:lbo:lbowps:2012_04

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    horizontal merger; research joint venture (RJV); contract enforceability; process R&D; R&D complementarity;

    JEL classification:

    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection

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