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Delays in Leniency Application: Is There Really a Race to the Enforcer's Door?


  • Gärtner, Dennis L.
  • Zhou, Jun


This paper studies cartels’ strategic behavior in delaying leniency applications, a take-up decision that has been ignored in the previous literature. Using European Commission decisions issued over a 16-year span, we show, contrary to common beliefs and the existing literature, that conspirators often apply for leniency long after a cartel collapses. We estimate hazard and probit models to study the determinants of leniency-application delays. Statistical tests find that delays are symmetrically affected by antitrust policies and macroeconomic fluctuations. Our results shed light on the design of enforcement programs against cartels and other forms of conspiracy.

Suggested Citation

  • Gärtner, Dennis L. & Zhou, Jun, 2012. "Delays in Leniency Application: Is There Really a Race to the Enforcer's Door?," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 395, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:trf:wpaper:395

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Spagnolo, Giancarlo, 2006. "Leniency and Whistleblowers in Antitrust," CEPR Discussion Papers 5794, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Motta, Massimo & Polo, Michele, 2003. "Leniency programs and cartel prosecution," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 347-379, March.
    3. 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.
    4. Margaret C. Levenstein & Valerie Y. Suslow, 2011. "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: Determinants of Cartel Duration," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(2), pages 455-492.
    5. Hélder Vasconcelos, 2008. "Sustaining Collusion in Growing Markets," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(4), pages 973-1010, December.
    6. Reinhard Selten, 1973. "A Simple Model of Imperfect Competition, where 4 are Few and 6 are Many," Center for Mathematical Economics Working Papers 008, Center for Mathematical Economics, Bielefeld University.
    7. Joseph E. Harrington, 2008. "OPTIMAL CORPORATE LENIENCY PROGRAMS -super-," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(2), pages 215-246, June.
    8. Jacquemin, Alexis & Nambu, Tsuruhiko & Dewez, Isabelle, 1981. "A Dynamic Analysis of Export Cartels: The Japanese Case," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 91(363), pages 685-696, September.
    9. George Symeonidis, 2002. "The Effects of Competition: Cartel Policy and the Evolution of Strategy and Structure in British Industry," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262194686, January.
    10. Nathan H. Miller, 2009. "Strategic Leniency and Cartel Enforcement," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 750-768, June.
    11. Porter, Robert H, 1985. "On the Incidence and Duration of Price Wars," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(4), pages 415-426, June.
    12. Kaplow, Louis & Shavell, Steven, 1994. "Optimal Law Enforcement with Self-Reporting of Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(3), pages 583-606, June.
    13. Myong-Hun Chang & Joseph E. Harrington, Jr., 2008. "The Impact of a Corporate Leniency Program on Antitrust Enforcement and Cartelization," Economics Working Paper Archive 548, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Catarina Marvão, 2016. "The EU Leniency Programme and Recidivism," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 48(1), pages 1-27, February.
    2. Marvão, Catarina, 2014. "Heterogeneous Penalties and Private Information," Konkurrensverket Working Paper Series in Law and Economics 2014:1, Konkurrensverket (Swedish Competition Authority).
    3. Jun Zhou, 2016. "The Rise and Fall of Cartels with Multi-market Colluders," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 48(4), pages 381-403, June.
    4. Marvao, Catarina, 2014. "Heterogeneous Penalties and Private Information," SITE Working Paper Series 29, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics.
    5. Hoang, Cung Truong & Hüschelrath, Kai & Laitenberger, Ulrich & Smuda, Florian, 2014. "Determinants of self-reporting under the European corporate leniency program," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 15-23.
    6. Marvao, Catarina & Spagnolo, Giancarlo, 2016. "Cartels and Leniency: Taking stock of what we learnt," SITE Working Paper Series 39, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics, revised 16 Nov 2016.

    More about this item


    corporate leniency program; cartel; leniency application delays;

    JEL classification:

    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • K21 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Antitrust Law
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

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