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Buyer Concentration As A Source Of Countervailing Power: Evidence From Experimental Posted-Offer Markets

  • Jim Engle-Warnick

    ()

  • Bradley Ruffle

    ()

We experimentally examine the impact of buyer concentration on the pricing of a monopolist. In our experimental markets, a monopolist faces either two or four buyers. Markets with two buyers achieve significantly lower prices, sometimes below competitive levels, than those with four buyers. We design an additional pair of treatments to pinpoint the source of this difference. We attribute the lower pries in the two-buyer treatment to the monopolist pricing more cautiously when there are fewer buyers in order to avoid costly losses in sales. Buyer concentration may thus be an elective source of countervailing power.

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Paper provided by McGill University, Department of Economics in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 2006-12.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mcl:mclwop:2006-12
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  1. Dufwenberg, Martin & Gneezy, Uri, 1999. "Price Competition and Market Concentration: An experimental Study," Research Papers in Economics 1999:4, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  2. Hans Normann, Bradley Ruffle and Christopher Snyder, 2004. "Do Buyer-Size Discounts Depend on the Curvature of the Surplus Function? Experimental Tests of Bargaining Models," Royal Holloway, University of London: Discussion Papers in Economics 04/01, Department of Economics, Royal Holloway University of London, revised Apr 2004.
  3. Davis, Douglas D. & Holt, Charles A., 2008. "The Exercise of Market Power in Laboratory Experiments," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  4. von Ungern-Sternberg, Thomas, 1996. "Countervailing power revisited," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 507-519, June.
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  6. Dobson, Paul W & Waterson, Michael, 1997. "Countervailing Power and Consumer Prices," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(441), pages 418-30, March.
  7. Steffen Huck & Hans-Theo Normann & Jörg Oechssler, 2001. "Two are Few and Four are Many: Number Effects in Experimental Oligopolies," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse12_2001, University of Bonn, Germany.
  8. Mestelman, Stuart & Welland, Douglas, 1988. "Advance Production in Experimental Markets," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(4), pages 641-54, October.
  9. Anderson, T. W. & Hsiao, Cheng, 1982. "Formulation and estimation of dynamic models using panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 47-82, January.
  10. Cason, Timothy N. & Williams, Arlington W., 1990. "Competitive equilibrium convergence in a posted-offer market with extreme earnings inequities," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 331-352, December.
  11. Bradley J. Ruffle, 2000. "Some factors affecting demand withholding in posted-offer markets," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 529-544.
  12. Cason, Timothy N. & Friedman, Daniel & Milam, Garrett H., 2003. "Bargaining versus posted price competition in customer markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 223-251, February.
  13. Coursey, Don & Isaac, R Mark & Smith, Vernon L, 1984. "Natural Monopoly and Contested Markets: Some Experimental Results," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 91-113, April.
  14. Douglas D. Davis & Bart J. Wilson, 2006. "Strategic Buyers, Horizontal Mergers and Synergies: An Experimental Investigation," Working Papers 0601, VCU School of Business, Department of Economics.
  15. Arellano, Manuel & Bond, Stephen, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 277-97, April.
  16. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1987. "Competition and the Number of Firms in a Market: Are Duopolies More Competitive than Atomistic Markets?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(5), pages 1041-61, October.
  17. Charles J. Thomas & Bart J. Wilson, 2002. "A Comparison of Auctions and Multilateral Negotiations," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(1), pages 140-155, Spring.
  18. Hoffman Elizabeth & McCabe Kevin & Shachat Keith & Smith Vernon, 1994. "Preferences, Property Rights, and Anonymity in Bargaining Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 346-380, November.
  19. Davis, Douglas D & Williams, Arlington W, 1991. "The Hayek Hypothesis in Experimental Auctions: Institutional Effects and Market Power," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(2), pages 261-74, April.
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