Preemptive Entry in Differentiated Product Markets
Models of spatial competition are typically static, and exhibit multiple free-entry equilibria. Incumbent firms can earn rents in equilibrium because any potential entrant expects a significantly lower market share (since it must fit into a niche between incumbent firms) along with fiercer price competition. Previous research has usually concentrated on the zero-profit equilibrium, at which there is normally excessive entry, and so an entry tax would improve the allocation of resources. At the other extreme, the equilibrium with the greatest rent per firm normally entails insufficient entry, so an entry subsidy should be prescribed. A model of sequential firm entry (with an exogenous order of moves) resolves the multiplicity problem but raises a new difficulty: firms that enter earlier can expect higher spatial rents, and so firms prefer to be earlier in the entry order. This tension disappears when firms can compete for entry positions. We therefore suppose that firms can commit capital early to the market in order to lay claim to a particular location. This temporal competition dissipates spatial rents in equilibrium and justifies the sequential move structure. However, the policy implications are quite different once time is introduced. An atemporal analysis of the sequential entry process would prescribe an entry subsidy, but once proper account is taken of the entry dynamics, a tax may be preferable.
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