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Through Trial & Error to Collusion


  • Steffen Huck

    (Humboldt University, Berlin)

  • Hans-Theo Normann

    (Humboldt University, Berlin)

  • Joerg Oechssler

    (Humboldt University, Berlin)


In this note we study a very simple trial & error learning process in the context of a Cournot oligopoly. Without any knowledge of the payoff functions players increase, respectively decrease, their quantity by one unit as long as this leads to higher profits. We show that this process converges to a collusive outcome.

Suggested Citation

  • Steffen Huck & Hans-Theo Normann & Joerg Oechssler, 1998. "Through Trial & Error to Collusion," Game Theory and Information 9811004, EconWPA, revised 24 Nov 1998.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpga:9811004
    Note: Pages: 12; figure included in the second file

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ellison, Glenn, 1993. "Learning, Local Interaction, and Coordination," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(5), pages 1047-1071, September.
    2. Osborne, Martin J & Rubinstein, Ariel, 1998. "Games with Procedurally Rational Players," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 834-847, September.
    3. Simon, Herbert A, 1978. "Rationality as Process and as Product of Thought," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 1-16, May.
    4. Sethi, Rajiv, 1998. "Strategy-Specific Barriers to Learning and Nonmonotonic Selection Dynamics," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 284-304, May.
    5. Young, H Peyton, 1993. "The Evolution of Conventions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(1), pages 57-84, January.
    6. Dekel, Eddie & Scotchmer, Suzanne, 1992. "On the evolution of optimizing behavior," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 392-406, August.
    7. Samuelson, Larry & Zhang, Jianbo, 1992. "Evolutionary stability in asymmetric games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 363-391, August.
    8. Kandori, Michihiro & Mailath, George J & Rob, Rafael, 1993. "Learning, Mutation, and Long Run Equilibria in Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(1), pages 29-56, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Duersch & Albert Kolb & Joerg Oechssler & Burkhard Schipper, 2005. "Rage Against the Machines: How Subjects Learn to Play Against Computers," Game Theory and Information 0510012, EconWPA.
    2. Altavilla, Carlo & Luini, Luigi & Sbriglia, Patrizia, 2006. "Social learning in market games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(4), pages 632-652, December.
    3. Mark Armstrong & Steffen Huck, 2011. "Behavioral Economics as Applied to Firms: A Primer," Antitrust Chronicle, Competition Policy International, vol. 1.
    4. Burkhard C. Schipper & Jorg Oechssler & Albert Kolb, 2005. "Rage Against the Machines: How Subjects Learn to Play Against Computers," Working Papers 516, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    learning; game theory; oligopoly; collusion;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

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