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Imperfect Competition and Quality Signaling

Author

Listed:
  • Andrew F. Daughety

    () (Department of Economics and Law School, Vanderbilt University)

  • Jennifer F. Reinganum

    () (Department of Economics and Law School, Vanderbilt University)

Abstract

We examine the interplay of imperfect competition and incomplete information in the context of price competition among firms producing horizontally- and vertically-differentiated substitute products. We find that incomplete information about vertical quality (e.g., consumer satisfaction) that is signaled via price softens price competition, and that imperfect competition can reduce the degree to which firms distort their prices to signal their types (relative to what a monopolist would do). We show that low-quality firms always prefer playing the incomplete information game to the full-information analog: their prices are higher and so are their profits. Moreover, for "high-value" markets, if the proportion of high-quality firms is great enough, high-quality firms also prefer incomplete information to full information. We find conditions such that an increase in the loss to consumers associated with consuming the low-quality product may perversely benefit low-quality firms. We discuss the implications of our analysis for recent tort reform proposals, incentives for the diffusion of general innovation to product-specific improvements, and professional licensing.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2005. "Imperfect Competition and Quality Signaling," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0520, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0520
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Imperfect competition; quality; signaling; oligopoly;

    JEL classification:

    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • K13 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Tort Law and Product Liability; Forensic Economics
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality

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