IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/20966.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Endogenous Horizontal Product Differentiation under Bertrand and Cournot Competition: Revisiting the Bertrand Paradox

Author

Listed:
  • James A. Brander
  • Barbara J. Spencer

Abstract

This paper provides a new and simple model of endogenous horizontal product differentiation based on a standard demand structure derived from quadratic utility. One objective of the paper is to explain the “empirical Bertrand paradox” – the failure to observe homogeneous product Bertrand oligopoly, while homogeneous product Cournot oligopoly has significant empirical relevance. In our model firms invest in product differentiation if differentiation investments are sufficiently effective (i.e. if differentiation is not too costly). The threshold level of differentiation effectiveness needed to induce such investments is an order of magnitude less for Bertrand firms than for Cournot firms. Thus there is a wide range over which Bertrand firms differentiate their products but Cournot firms do not. If Cournot firms do choose to differentiate their products, corresponding Bertrand firms always differentiate more. We also establish the important insight that if product differentiation is endogenous Bertrand firms may charge higher prices and earn higher profits than corresponding Cournot firms, in contrast to the general presumption that Bertrand behavior is more competitive than Cournot behavior. Interestingly, consumer surplus increases with differentiation in the Cournot model but, due to sharply increasing prices, decreases with differentiation in the Bertrand model.

Suggested Citation

  • James A. Brander & Barbara J. Spencer, 2015. "Endogenous Horizontal Product Differentiation under Bertrand and Cournot Competition: Revisiting the Bertrand Paradox," NBER Working Papers 20966, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20966
    Note: IO
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w20966.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Motta, Massimo, 1993. "Endogenous Quality Choice: Price vs. Quantity Competition," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 113-131, June.
    2. Boccard, N. & Wauthy, X.Y., 2010. "Equilibrium vertical differentiation in a Bertrand model with capacity precommitment," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 288-297, May.
    3. Zhihong Chen & Zhiqi Chen, 2014. "Product Line Rivalry and Firm Asymmetry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(3), pages 417-435, September.
    4. Friedman, James, 1993. "Oligopoly theory," Handbook of Mathematical Economics, in: K. J. Arrow & M.D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Mathematical Economics, edition 4, volume 2, chapter 11, pages 491-534, Elsevier.
    5. Avner Shaked & John Sutton, 1982. "Relaxing Price Competition Through Product Differentiation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(1), pages 3-13.
    6. Qiu, Larry D., 1997. "On the Dynamic Efficiency of Bertrand and Cournot Equilibria," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 213-229, July.
    7. Bruttel, Lisa V., 2009. "Group dynamics in experimental studies--The Bertrand Paradox revisited," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 51-63, January.
    8. Leonard Cheng, 1985. "Comparing Bertrand and Cournot Equilibria: A Geometric Approach," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(1), pages 146-152, Spring.
    9. Simon Loertscher, 2005. "Market making oligopoly," Diskussionsschriften dp0512, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
    10. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716.
    11. Victor Tremblay & Stephen Polasky, 2002. "Advertising with Subjective Horizontal and Vertical Product Differentiation," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 20(3), pages 253-265, May.
    12. Nirvikar Singh & Xavier Vives, 1984. "Price and Quantity Competition in a Differentiated Duopoly," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(4), pages 546-554, Winter.
    13. F. Gasmi & J.J. Laffont & Q. Vuong, 1992. "Econometric Analysisof Collusive Behaviorin a Soft‐Drink Market," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(2), pages 277-311, June.
    14. Margaret E. Slade, 1995. "Empirical Games: The Oligopoly Case," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 28(2), pages 368-402, May.
    15. Jansen, Thijs & van Lier, Arie & van Witteloostuijn, Arjen & Boon von Ochssée, Tim, 2012. "A modified Cournot model of the natural gas market in the European Union: Mixed-motives delegation in a politicized environment," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 280-285.
    16. Gasmi, Farid & Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Vuong, Quang, 1992. "Econometric Analysis of Collusive Behavior in a Soft Drink Market," IDEI Working Papers 16, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    17. Judy Hsu & X. Wang, 2005. "On Welfare under Cournot and Bertrand Competition in Differentiated Oligopolies," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 27(2), pages 185-191, September.
    18. Simon Loertscher, 2008. "Market Making Oligopoly," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(2), pages 263-289, June.
    19. Vives, Xavier, 1985. "On the efficiency of Bertrand and Cournot equilibria with product differentation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 166-175, June.
    20. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Kaushik Basu & Tapan Mitra, 2020. "Individual preferences and democratic processes: two theorems with implications for electoral politics," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 54(2), pages 259-292, March.
    2. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Biancini, Sara & Paillacar, Rodrigo, 2019. "Universal intellectual property rights: Too much of a good thing?," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 51-81.
    3. Longhua Liu & X. Henry Wang & Chenhang Zeng, 2020. "Endogenous Horizontal Product Differentiation in a Mixed Duopoly," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 56(3), pages 435-462, May.
    4. Brander, James A. & Spencer, Barbara J., 2015. "Intra-industry trade with Bertrand and Cournot oligopoly: The role of endogenous horizontal product differentiation," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 157-165.
    5. Didier Laussel, 2018. "Strategic Product Design under Duopoly," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 131, pages 25-44.
    6. Maria Rosa Battaggion & Vittoria Cerasi, 2018. "Endogenous interlocking directorates," Working Papers 380, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised 01 May 2018.
    7. Bloomfield, Matthew J., 2021. "Compensation disclosures and strategic commitment: Evidence from revenue-based pay," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 141(2), pages 620-643.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Ya‐chin Wang & Leonard F.s. Wang, 2009. "Equivalence Of Competition Mode In A Vertically Differentiated Duopoly With Delegation," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 77(4), pages 577-590, December.
    2. Simon Loertscher & Leslie Marx, 2014. "An Oligopoly Model for Analyzing and Evaluating (Re)-Assignments of Spectrum Licenses," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 45(3), pages 245-273, November.
    3. Ngo Van Long & Zhuang Miao, 2020. "Multiple‐quality Cournot oligopoly and the role of market size," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(4), pages 932-952, October.
    4. Ming Chang & Yan-Ching Ho, 2014. "Comparing Cournot and Bertrand equilibria in an asymmetric duopoly with product R&D," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 113(2), pages 133-174, October.
    5. Xing Gao & Weijun Zhong, 2016. "Economic incentives in security information sharing: the effects of market structures," Information Technology and Management, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 361-377, December.
    6. Luciano Fanti & Nicola Meccheri, 2015. "On the Cournot–Bertrand Profit Differential and the Structure of Unionisation in a Managerial Duopoly," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(4), pages 266-287, December.
    7. Nguyen, Xuan, 2015. "On the efficiency of private and state-owned enterprises in mixed markets," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 130-137.
    8. Tondji, Jean-Baptiste, 2016. "Welfare Analysis of Cournot and Bertrand Competition With(out) Investment in R & D," MPRA Paper 75806, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 24 Dec 2016.
    9. Lambertini, Luca, 1997. "Prisoners' Dilemma in Duopoly (Super)Games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 181-191, November.
    10. Luciano Fanti & Luca Gori, 2013. "Stability Analysis in a Bertrand Duopoly with Different Product Quality and Heterogeneous Expectations," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 481-501, December.
    11. Alipranti, Maria & Milliou, Chrysovalantou & Petrakis, Emmanuel, 2014. "Price vs. quantity competition in a vertically related market," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 124(1), pages 122-126.
    12. Wang, Shinn-Shyr & Stiegert, Kyle W., 2006. "The Duopolistic Firm with Endogenous Risk Control: Case of Persuasive Advertising and Product Differentiation," Staff Paper Series 496, University of Wisconsin, Agricultural and Applied Economics.
    13. Lopez, Monica Correa & Naylor, Robin A., 2001. "The Cournot-Bertrand Profit Differential: a reversal result in a differentiated duopoly with wage bargaining," Economic Research Papers 269405, University of Warwick - Department of Economics.
    14. Delbono, Flavio & Lambertini, Luca, 2016. "Ranking Bertrand, Cournot and supply function equilibria in oligopoly," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 73-78.
    15. Gordon M. Bodnar & Bernard Dumas & Richard C. Marston, 2002. "Pass‐through and Exposure," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(1), pages 199-231, February.
    16. Cellini, Roberto & Siciliani, Luigi & Straume, Odd Rune, 2018. "A dynamic model of quality competition with endogenous prices," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 190-206.
    17. Aigner, Rafael & Weber, Katharina, 2017. "The Fehmarn Belt duopoly – Can the ferry compete with a tunnel?," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 1-15.
    18. Symeonidis, George, 2003. "Comparing Cournot and Bertrand equilibria in a differentiated duopoly with product R&D," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 39-55, January.
    19. Manipushpak Mitra & Rupayan Pal & Arindam Paul & P. M. Sharada, 2020. "Equilibrium Coexistence of Public and Private Firms and the Plausibility of Price Competition," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 176(2), pages 217-242.
    20. Onur A. Koska, 2020. "Sourcing product quality for foreign market entry," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 156(3), pages 669-702, August.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D4 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design
    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20966. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.