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Market Structure, Scale Economies, and Industry Performance

  • Rahab Amir

We provide an extensive and general investigation of the effects on industry performance (profits and social welfare) of exogenously changing the number of firms in a Cournot framework. This amounts to an in-depth exploration of the well-known trade-off between competition and production efficiency. We establish that under scale economies, welfare is maximized by a finite number of firms. Our results shed light on several theoretical issues and policy debates in industrial organization, including the relationship between the Herfindahl index and social welfare, free versus socially optimal entry, concentration and profitability, destructive competition and natural monopoly. Our analytical approach combines simplicity with generality. ZUSAMMENFASSUNG - (Marktstruktur, Größenvorteile und Marktergebnis) In dem Beitrag wird im Rahmen eines Cournot-Ansatzes eine allgemeine Untersuchung der Auswirkungen der exogen sich ändernden Anzahl von Unternehmen auf das Marktergebnis (Gewinne und soziale Wohlfahrt) vorgestellt. Dabei wird in einer analytischen Betrachtung das bekannte Trade-off zwischen Wettbewerb und Produktionseffizienz herausgearbeitet. Es wird gezeigt, daß beim Vorliegen von Größenvorteilen die Wohlfahrt durch eine endliche Zahl von Firmen maximiert wird. Das Ergebnis beleuchtet verschiedene Aspekte der wirtschaftstheoretischen und industriepolitischen Diskussion, einschließlich der Beziehungen zwischen den Herfindahl-Index und der sozialen Wohlfahrt, freiem versus sozial optimalem Markteintritt, Konzentration und Profitabilität, ruinösem Wettbewerb und natürlichem Monopol. Der analytische Ansatz vereint Einfachheit mit Allgemeinheit.

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Paper provided by Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB), Research Unit: Competition and Innovation (CIG) in its series CIG Working Papers with number FS IV 00-08.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wzb:wzebiv:fsiv00-08
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  1. Amir, Rabah, 1996. "Cournot Oligopoly and the Theory of Supermodular Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 132-148, August.
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    • Ramey, Valerie A. & West, Kenneth D., 1999. "Inventories," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 13, pages 863-923 Elsevier.
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  9. Farrell, Joseph & Shapiro, Carl, 1990. "Horizontal Mergers: An Equilibrium Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 107-26, March.
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  11. Caplin, Andrew & Nalebuff, Barry, 1991. "Aggregation and Imperfect Competition: On the Existence of Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(1), pages 25-59, January.
  12. Lambson, Val Eugene, 1987. "Is the Concentration-Profit Correlation Partly an Artifact of Lumpy Technology?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 731-33, September.
  13. d'ASPREMONT, Claude & DOS SANTOS FERREIRA, Rodolphe & GERARD-VARET, Louis-André, . "Contestability and the indeterminacy of free-entry equilibria," CORE Discussion Papers RP 1452, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  14. Spence, Michael, 1983. "Contestable Markets and the Theory of Industry Structure: A Review Article," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 981-90, September.
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  16. Seade, Jesus K, 1980. "On the Effects of Entry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(2), pages 479-89, March.
  17. Novshek, William, 1985. "On the Existence of Cournot Equilibrium," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(1), pages 85-98, January.
  18. Perry, Martin K, 1984. "Scale Economies, Imperfect Competition, and Public Policy," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(3), pages 313-33, March.
  19. Diewert, Walter E & Wales, Terence J, 1987. "Flexible Functional Forms and Global Curvature Conditions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 43-68, January.
  20. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1990. "Rationalizability, Learning, and Equilibrium in Games with Strategic Complementarities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1255-77, November.
  21. Demsetz, Harold, 1973. "Industry Structure, Market Rivalry, and Public Policy," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 1-9, April.
  22. Greg Shaffer & Stephen W. Salant, 1999. "Unequal Treatment of Identical Agents in Cournot Equilibrium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 585-604, June.
  23. Fauli-Oller, Ramon, 1997. "On merger profitability in a Cournot setting," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 75-79, January.
  24. Javier M. López-Cuñat, 1999. "One-stage and two-stage entry Cournot equilibria," Investigaciones Economicas, Fundación SEPI, vol. 23(1), pages 115-128, January.
  25. N. Gregory Mankiw & Michael D. Whinston, 1986. "Free Entry and Social Inefficiency," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(1), pages 48-58, Spring.
  26. Cox, James C. & Walker, Mark, 1998. "Learning to play Cournot duopoly strategies," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 141-161, August.
  27. Suzumura, Kotaro & Kiyono, Kazuharu, 1987. "Entry Barriers and Economic Welfare," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(1), pages 157-67, January.
  28. de Meza, David, 1985. "A Stable Cournot-Nash Industry Need Not Be Quasi-competitive," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(2), pages 153-56, May.
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  30. Okuguchi, Koji, 1973. "Quasi-Competitiveness and Cournot Oligopoly," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(1), pages 145-48, January.
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