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Two are Few and Four are Many: Number Effects in Experimental Oligopolies

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  • Huck, Steffen
  • Normann, Hans-Theo
  • Oechssler, Jörg

Abstract

In this paper we investigate how the competitiveness of Cournot markets varies with the number of firms in an industry. We review previous Cournot experiments in the literature. Additionally, we conduct a new series of experiments studying oligopolies with two, three, four, and five firms in a unified frame. With two firms we find some collusion. Three-firm oligopolies tend to produce outputs at the Nash level. Markets with four or five firms are never collusive and typically settle at or above the Cournot outcome. Some of those markets are actually quite competitive with outputs close to the Walrasian outcome.

Suggested Citation

  • Huck, Steffen & Normann, Hans-Theo & Oechssler, Jörg, 2001. "Two are Few and Four are Many: Number Effects in Experimental Oligopolies," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers 12/2001, University of Bonn, Bonn Graduate School of Economics (BGSE).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:bonedp:122001
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Huck, Steffen & Normann, Hans-Theo & Oechssler, Jorg, 2000. "Does information about competitors' actions increase or decrease competition in experimental oligopoly markets?," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 39-57, January.
    2. Benson, Bruce L. & Faminow, M. D., 1988. "The impact of experience on prices and profits in experimental duopoly markets," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 345-365, June.
    3. Rassenti, Stephen & Reynolds, Stanley S. & Smith, Vernon L. & Szidarovszky, Ferenc, 2000. "Adaptation and convergence of behavior in repeated experimental Cournot games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 117-146, February.
    4. Huck, Steffen & Normann, Hans-Theo & Oechssler, Jorg, 1999. "Learning in Cournot Oligopoly--An Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(454), pages 80-95, March.
    5. Ronald Harstad & Stephen Martin & Hans-Theo Normann, 1997. "Experimental Tests of Consciously Parallel Behaviour in Oligopoly," CIE Discussion Papers 1997-07, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Industrial Economics.
    6. F. T. Dolbear & L. B. Lave & G. Bowman & A. Lieberman & E. Prescott & F. Rueter & R. Sherman, 1968. "Collusion in Oligopoly: An Experiment on the Effect of Numbers and Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(2), pages 240-259.
    7. Huck, Steffen & Muller, Wieland & Normann, Hans-Theo, 2001. "Stackelberg Beats Cournot: On Collusion and Efficiency in Experimental Markets," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(474), pages 749-765, October.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cournot markets; oligopolies; experiments;

    JEL classification:

    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games

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