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Are Sunk Costs A Barrier To Entry?

  • Luis M.B. Cabral
  • Thomas Ross

"The received wisdom is that sunk costs create a barrier to entry-if entry fails, then the entrant, unable to recover sunk costs, incurs greater losses. In a strategic context where an incumbent may prey on the entrant, sunk entry costs have a countervailing effect: they may effectively commit the entrant to stay in the market. By providing the entrant with commitment power, sunk investments may soften the reactions of incumbents. The net effect may imply that entry is more profitable when sunk costs are greater." Copyright 2008 Blackwell Publishing.

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Paper provided by New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 06-09.

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Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ste:nystbu:06-09
Contact details of provider: Postal: New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics, 44 West 4th Street, New York, NY 10012-1126
Phone: (212) 998-0860
Fax: (212) 995-4218
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  1. Kyle Bagwell & Garey Ramey, 1996. "Capacity, Entry, and Forward Induction," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(4), pages 660-680, Winter.
  2. Lipman, Barton L. & Wang, Ruqu, 2000. "Switching Costs in Frequently Repeated Games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 93(2), pages 149-190, August.
  3. Cabral, Luis M B & Riordan, Michael H, 1997. "The Learning Curve, Predation, Antitrust, and Welfare," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(2), pages 155-69, June.
  4. Guillermo Caruana & Liran Einav, 2008. "A Theory of Endogenous Commitment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(1), pages 99-116.
  5. Dixit, Avinash, 1979. "The Role of Investment in Entry-Deterrence," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 140, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  6. T.W. Ross, 2004. "Sunk Costs and the Entry Decision," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 79-93, 06.
  7. A. Michael Spence, 1977. "Entry, Capacity, Investment and Oligopolistic Pricing," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 8(2), pages 534-544, Autumn.
  8. John Connor, 2001. "“Our Customers Are Our Enemies”: The Lysine Cartel of 1992–1995," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 5-21, February.
  9. Bolton, Patrick & Scharfstein, David S, 1990. "A Theory of Predation Based on Agency Problems in Financial Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 93-106, March.
  10. Daniel F. Spulber, 1989. "Regulation and Markets," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262192756, June.
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