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Communication in vertical markets: Experimental evidence

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  • Möllers, Claudia
  • Normann, Hans-Theo
  • Snyder, Christopher M.

Abstract

When an upstream monopolist supplies several competing downstreamfirms, it may fail to monopolize the market because it is unable to commit not to behave opportunistically. We build on previous experimental studies of this well-known commitment problem by introducing communication. Allowing the upstream firm to chat privately with each downstream firm reduces total offered quantity from near the Cournot level (observed in the absence of communication) halfway toward the monopoly level. Allowing all three firms to chat together openly results in complete monopolization. Downstream firms obtain such a bargaining advantage from open communication that all of the gains from monopolizing the market accrue to them. A simple structural model of Nash-in-Nash bargaining fits the pattern of shifting surpluses well. Using third-party coders, unsupervised text mining, among other approaches, we uncover features of the rich chat data that are correlated with market outcomes. We conclude with a discussion of the antitrust implications of open communication in vertical markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Möllers, Claudia & Normann, Hans-Theo & Snyder, Christopher M., 2016. "Communication in vertical markets: Experimental evidence," DICE Discussion Papers 226, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:dicedp:226
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    Cited by:

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    2. Fourberg, Niklas, 2017. "Let's lock them in: Collusion under Consumer Switching Costs," VfS Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168097, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
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    5. Chrysovalantou Milliou & Apostolis Pavlou, 2020. "Foreign direct investment in vertically related markets," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 53(1), pages 284-320, February.
    6. Nick Feltovich & Yasuyo Hamaguchi, 2018. "The Effect of Whistle‐Blowing Incentives on Collusion: An Experimental Study of Leniency Programs," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 84(4), pages 1024-1049, April.
    7. Eguia, Jon X. & Llorente-Saguer, Aniol & Morton, Rebecca & Nicolò, Antonio, 2018. "Equilibrium selection in sequential games with imperfect information," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 465-483.
    8. Werner Güth & Manfred Stadler & Alexandra Zaby, 2020. "Capacity precommitment, communication, and collusive pricing: theoretical benchmark and experimental evidence," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 49(2), pages 495-524, June.
    9. Stefan P. Penczynski, 2019. "Using machine learning for communication classification," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 22(4), pages 1002-1029, December.
    10. N. M. Rozanova, 2021. "Methodological Issues of Modern Competition Policy," Studies on Russian Economic Development, Springer, vol. 32(5), pages 492-498, September.
    11. Benjamin Wegener, 2021. "How to Analyze Communication Data from Laboratory Experiments Without Being a Machine Learning Specialist," Journal of Economics and Behavioral Studies, AMH International, vol. 13(1), pages 32-56.
    12. Fourberg, Niklas, 2018. "Let's lock them in: Collusion under consumer switching costs," DICE Discussion Papers 296, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    13. Zoë B. Cullen & Ricardo Perez-Truglia, 2018. "The Salary Taboo: Privacy Norms and the Diffusion of Information," NBER Working Papers 25145, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Andres, Maximilian & Bruttel, Lisa & Friedrichsen, Jana, 2021. "How do sanctions work? The choice between cartel formation and tacit collusion," VfS Annual Conference 2021 (Virtual Conference): Climate Economics 242372, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    15. Fischer, Christian & Normann, Hans-Theo, 2019. "Collusion and bargaining in asymmetric Cournot duopoly—An experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 360-379.
    16. Tebbe, Eva & Wegener, Benjamin, 2022. "Is natural language processing the cheap charlie of analyzing cheap talk? A horse race between classifiers on experimental communication data," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 96(C).
    17. Agranov, Marina & Yariv, Leeat, 2018. "Collusion through communication in auctions," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 93-108.
    18. Lauton, Felix & Rothkopf, Alexander & Pibernik, Richard, 2019. "The value of entrant manufacturers: A study of competition and risk for donor-funded procurement of essential medicines," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 272(1), pages 292-312.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    commitment; communication; experiments; vertical restraints;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • L42 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Vertical Restraints; Resale Price Maintenance; Quantity Discounts
    • K21 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Antitrust Law
    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General

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