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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. Novshek, William, 1985. "On the Existence of Cournot Equilibrium," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(1), pages 85-98, January.
  2. Seade, Jesus K, 1980. "On the Effects of Entry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(2), pages 479-89, March.
  3. Perry, Martin K, 1984. "Scale Economies, Imperfect Competition, and Public Policy," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(3), pages 313-33, March.
  4. Athey, Susan, 2002. "Monotone Comparative Statics Under Uncertainty," Scholarly Articles 3372263, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  7. 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.
  8. Joseph Farrell & Carl Shapiro, 1990. "Asset Ownership and Market Structure in Oligopoly," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(2), pages 275-292, Summer.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. W. Erwin Diewert & T.J. Wales, 1989. "Flexible Functional Forms and Global Curvature Conditions," NBER Technical Working Papers 0040, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. 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).
  13. ROBERTS, John, . "On the existence of Cournot equilibrium without concave profit functions," CORE Discussion Papers RP -260, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  14. Andrew Caplin & Barry Nalebuff, 1990. "Aggregation and Imperfect Competition: On the Existence of Equilibrium," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 937, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  15. AMIR, Rabah & LAMBSON, Val, 1999. "On the effects of entry in Cournot markets," CORE Discussion Papers 1999059, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  16. 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.
  17. Fauli-Oller, Ramon, 1997. "On merger profitability in a Cournot setting," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 75-79, January.
  18. Suzumura, Kotaro & Kiyono, Kazuharu, 1987. "Entry Barriers and Economic Welfare," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(1), pages 157-67, January.
  19. Farrell, J. & Shapiro, C., 1988. "Horizontal Mergers: An Equilibrium Analysis," Papers 17, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
  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. 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.
  22. Okuguchi, Koji, 1973. "Quasi-Competitiveness and Cournot Oligopoly," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(1), pages 145-48, January.
  23. Novshek, William, 1980. "Cournot Equilibrium with Free Entry," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(3), pages 473-86, April.
  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. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1994. "Comparing Equilibria," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 441-59, June.
  26. Brock, William A, 1983. "Contestable Markets and the Theory of Industry Structure: A Review Article," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(6), pages 1055-66, December.
  27. Ruffin, R J, 1971. "Cournot Oligopoly and Competitive Behaviour," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(116), pages 493-502, October.
  28. 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.
  29. Amir, Rabah, 1996. "Cournot Oligopoly and the Theory of Supermodular Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 132-148, August.
  30. Ramey, Valerie A, 1989. "Inventories as Factors of Production and Economic Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 338-54, June.
  31. Susan Athey, 2002. "Monotone Comparative Statics Under Uncertainty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 187-223, February.
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