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Upstream Competition and Downstream Buyer Power

  • Howard Smith
  • John Thanassoulis

It is often claimed that large buyers wield buyer power.� Existing theories of this effect generally assume upstream monopoly.� Yet the evidence is strongest with upstream competition.� We show that upstream competition can yield buyer power for large buyers by generating supplier-level volume uncertainty - a feature that emerges from case study evidence of upstream competition - so the negotiated price depends on the seller's cost expectation.� By analyzing the effect of market structure changes on seller cost expectations the paper gives insights on three key policy-relevant questions around buyer power: (i) who wields it and under what circumstances (ii) does a downstream merger alter the buyer power of other buyers (so-called waterbed effects); and (iii) how are the incentives to invest in upstream technology altered by the creation of large downstream firms?

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File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/working_papers/paper420.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 420.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2009
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:420
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  1. Roman Inderst & Christian Wey, 2005. "Buyer Power and Supplier Incentives," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 464, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  2. 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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  4. Roman Inderst & Christian Wey, 2001. "Bargaining, Mergers, and Technology Choice in Bilaterally Oligopolistic Industries," CIG Working Papers FS IV 01-19, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB), Research Unit: Competition and Innovation (CIG).
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  8. Dobson, Paul W & Waterson, Michael, 1997. "Countervailing Power and Consumer Prices," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(441), pages 418-30, March.
  9. Sara Fisher Ellison & Christopher M. Snyder, 2010. "COUNTERVAILING POWER IN WHOLESALE PHARMACEUTICALS -super-* ," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(1), pages 32-53, 03.
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  11. Horn, H. & Wolinsky, A., 1988. "Bilateral Monopolies And Incentives For Merger," Papers 410, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  12. Bjornerstedt, Jonas & Stennek, Johan, 2007. "Bilateral oligopoly -- The efficiency of intermediate goods markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 884-907, October.
  13. Glenn MacDonald & Michael D. Ryall, 2004. "How Do Value Creation and Competition Determine Whether a Firm Appropriates Value?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(10), pages 1319-1333, October.
  14. Tasneem Chipty & Christopher M. Snyder, 1999. "The Role Of Firm Size In Bilateral Bargaining: A Study Of The Cable Television Industry," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(2), pages 326-340, May.
  15. Wilson, Charles, 1977. "A model of insurance markets with incomplete information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 167-207, December.
  16. Stole, Lars A & Zwiebel, Jeffrey, 1996. "Organizational Design and Technology Choice under Intrafirm Bargaining," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 195-222, March.
  17. Jonas Björnerstedt & Johan Stennek, 2001. "Bilateral Oligopoly," CIG Working Papers FS IV 01-08, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB), Research Unit: Competition and Innovation (CIG).
  18. Inderst, Roman & Shaffer, Greg, 2004. "Retail Mergers: Buyer Power and Product Variety," CEPR Discussion Papers 4236, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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