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When Do Large Buyers Pay Less? Experimental Evidence

  • Ruffle, Bradley J.

The rise in mega-retailers has contributed to a growing literature on buyer power and large-buyer discounts. According to Rotemberg and Saloner (1986) and Snyder (1998), large buyers' ability to obtain price discounts depends on their relative (rather than absolute) size and the degree of competition between suppliers. I test experimentally comparative statics implications of this theory concerning the number of sellers and the sizes of the buyers in the market. The results track the comparative statics predictions to a surprising extent. Subtle changes in the distribution of buyer sizes or the number of suppliers can create or negate large-buyer discounts. The results highlight the previously unexplored role of the demand structure in determining buyer-size discounts. Furthermore, the experiments establish the presence of small-buyer premia, not anticipated by the theory.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 16683.

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Date of creation: 06 Aug 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:16683
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  1. John Haltiwanger & Joseph E. Harrington Jr., 1991. "The Impact of Cyclical Demand Movements on Collusive Behavior," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(1), pages 89-106, Spring.
  2. Snyder, Christopher M., 1998. "Why do larger buyers pay lower prices? Intense supplier competition," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 205-209, February.
  3. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  4. Hans-Theo Normann & Bradley J. Ruffle & Christopher M. Sndyer, 2003. "Do Buyer-Size Discounts Depend on the Curvature of the Surplus Function? Experimental Tests of Bargaining Models," Experimental 0308001, EconWPA.
  5. Aoyagi, Masaki & Fréchette, Guillaume, 2009. "Collusion as public monitoring becomes noisy: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(3), pages 1135-1165, May.
  6. 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.
  7. Klaus Abbink & Jordi Brandts, 2005. "Collusion in Growing and Shrinking Markets: Empirical Evidence from Experimental Duopolies," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 648.05, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  8. 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.
  9. John A. List, 2009. "The Economics of Open Air Markets," NBER Working Papers 15420, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Feinberg, Robert M & Husted, Thomas A, 1993. "An Experimental Test of Discount-Rate Effects on Collusive Behaviour in Duopoly Markets," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 153-60, June.
  11. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:3:y:2002:i:6:p:1-11 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Engle-Warnick, J. & Slonim, Robert L., 2006. "Learning to trust in indefinitely repeated games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 95-114, January.
  13. repec:oup:restud:v:58:y:1991:i:1:p:171-80 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Christopher M. Snyder, 1996. "A Dynamic Theory of Countervailing Power," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(4), pages 747-769, Winter.
  15. Robert Feinberg & Christopher Snyder, 2002. "Collusion with secret price cuts: an experimental investigation," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 3(6), pages 1-11.
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