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Beyond the Cost of Price Adjustment: Investments in Pricing Capital

Author

Listed:
  • Mark Zbaracki

    (The Wharton)

  • Mark Bergen

    (University of Minnesota)

  • Shantanu Dutta

    (University of Sourthern California)

  • Daniel Levy

    (Bar-Ilan University)

  • Mark Ritson

    (London Business School)

Abstract

The literature on costs of price adjustment has long argued that changing prices is a complex and costly process. In fact, some authors have suggested that we should think of firms’ price-setting activities as “producing” prices, similar to the way firms use production processes to produce goods and services. In this paper we explore one natural extension of this view, that besides observing costs of price adjustment, we should also expect to see firm-level investments in capital expenditures into these “pricing” production processes. We coin the term “pricing capital” for these investments, and suggest that they can improve the efficiency of the “pricing production” activities by both reducing the costs of adjusting prices, and improving the effectiveness of price adjustments in future periods. Using two types of data sources, we find compelling evidence of the existence as well as the importance of pricing capital in firms. The existence of firm-level “pricing capital” has the potential of fundamentally altering the way we think about pricing and price adjustment in many areas of economics. It suggests looking toward the “pricing capital” to decipher the likely degree and causes of price rigidity and its variation across price setters, markets, and industries. Moreover, “pricing capital” introduces a new, higher-level, pricing decision made by individual firms. Decisions to invest in pricing capital compete with traditional capital investment decisions that have long been studied in economics, such as capital investments in plant, equipment, and R&D. Furthermore, since pricing capital is a choice variable, it implies that costs of price adjustment often used in models of price rigidity are endogenous. As such, pricing capital offers new insights into the micro-foundations of the costs of price adjustment. The most provocative implication of the new theory of pricing, however, is that the allocative efficiency of the price system itself may be determined endogenously by individual price setters who choose whether and how much to invest in pricing capital.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Zbaracki & Mark Bergen & Shantanu Dutta & Daniel Levy & Mark Ritson, 2005. "Beyond the Cost of Price Adjustment: Investments in Pricing Capital," Macroeconomics 0505013, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:0505013 Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 37
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Mark Bergen & Daniel Levy & Sourav Ray & Paul H. Rubin & Benjamin Zeliger, 2008. "When Little Things Mean a Lot: On the Inefficiency of Item-Pricing Laws," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(2), pages 209-250, May.
    2. Mark J. Zbaracki & Mark Ritson & Daniel Levy & Shantanu Dutta & Mark Bergen, 2004. "Managerial and Customer Costs of Price Adjustment: Direct Evidence from Industrial Markets," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 514-533, May.
    3. Mark Zbaracki & Mark Bergen & Daniel Levy & Mark Ritson, 2005. "Beyond the Cost of Price Adjustment: Investments in Pricing Capital," Working Papers 2005-03, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cost of Price Adjustment; Menu Cost; Managerial and Customer Costs of Price Adjustment; Pricing Capital; Pricing Production Process (PPP); Price Rigidity; Sticky Prices; Rigid Prices; Microfoundations of the Costs of Price Adjustment; Allocative Efficiency; Price System; Endogenous Price Adjustment Cost;

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D4 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L16 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Industrial Organization and Macroeconomics; Macroeconomic Industrial Structure
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure

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