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Learning Cycles in Bertrand Competition with Differentiated Commodities and Competing Learning Rules

This paper stresses the importance of heterogeneity in learning rules. We introduce an evolutionary competition between different learning rules and demonstrate that, though these rules can coexist, their convergence properties are strongly affected by heterogeneity. We consider a Bertrand oligopoly with differentiated goods. Firms do not have full information about the demand structure and they want to maximize their perceived one-period profit by applying one of two different learning rules: OLS learning and gradient learning. We analytically show that the stability of gradient learning depends on the distribution of learning rules over firms. In particular, as the number of gradient learners increases, gradient learning may become unstable. We study evolutionary competition between the learning rules by means of computer simulations and illustrate that this change in stability for gradient learning may lead to cyclical switching between the rules. Stable gradient learning typically gives higher average profit than OLS learning, making firms switch to gradient learning. This however, destabilizes gradient learning which, because of decreasing profits, makes firms switch back to OLS learning. This cycle may repeat itself indefinitely.

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File URL: http://www.uts.edu.au/sites/default/files/edg_wp8.pdf
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Paper provided by Economics Discipline Group, UTS Business School, University of Technology, Sydney in its series Working Paper Series with number 8.

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Length: 38
Date of creation: 01 Apr 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uts:ecowps:8
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  1. Theo Offerman & Jan Potters & Joep Sonnemans, 2002. "Imitation and Belief Learning in an Oligopoly Experiment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 973-997.
  2. Gal-Or, Esther, 1985. "First Mover and Second Mover Advantages," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 26(3), pages 649-53, October.
  3. Mikhail Anufriev & Cars Hommes, 2012. "Evolutionary Selection of Individual Expectations and Aggregate Outcomes in Asset Pricing Experiments," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 35-64, November.
  4. Ido Erev & Eyal Ert & Alvin E. Roth, 2010. "A Choice Prediction Competition for Market Entry Games: An Introduction," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 1(2), pages 117-136, May.
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  7. Droste, E. & Hommes, C.H. & Tuinstra, J., 1999. "Endogenous Fluctuations under Evolutionary Pressure in Cournot Competition," CeNDEF Working Papers 99-04, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Center for Nonlinear Dynamics in Economics and Finance.
  8. Furth, Dave, 1986. "Stability and instability in oligopoly," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 197-228, December.
  9. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 1996. "The Theory of Learning in Games," Levine's Working Paper Archive 624, David K. Levine.
  10. Bonanno, Giacomo, 1988. "Oligopoly Equilibria When Firms Have Local Knowledge of Demand," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 29(1), pages 45-55, February.
  11. Anufriev, M. & Tuinstra, J. & Bao, T., 2013. "Fund Choice Behavior and Estimation of Switching Models: An Experiment," CeNDEF Working Papers 13-04, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Center for Nonlinear Dynamics in Economics and Finance.
  12. Gates, D J & Rickard, J A & Wilson, D J, 1977. "A Convergent Adjustment Process for Firms in Competition," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(6), pages 1349-63, September.
  13. Stahl, Dale O., 1996. "Boundedly Rational Rule Learning in a Guessing Game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 303-330, October.
  14. Roth, Alvin E. & Erev, Ido, 1995. "Learning in extensive-form games: Experimental data and simple dynamic models in the intermediate term," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 164-212.
  15. Marcet, Albert & Sargent, Thomas J., 1989. "Convergence of least squares learning mechanisms in self-referential linear stochastic models," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 337-368, August.
  16. Ross Cressman, 2003. "Evolutionary Dynamics and Extensive Form Games," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262033054, June.
  17. Bonanno, Giacomo & Christopher Zeeman, E., 1985. "Limited knowledge of demand and oligopoly equilibria," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 276-283, August.
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