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Is a "firm" a firm? A Stackelberg experiment

  • Hildenbrand, Andreas

Industrial organization is mainly concerned with the behavior of large firms, especially when it comes to oligopoly theory. Experimental industrial organization therefore faces a problem: How can firms be brought into the laboratory? The main approach relies on framing: Call individuals firms! This experimental approach is not in line with modern industrial organization, according to which a firm's market behavior is also determined by its organizational structure. In this paper, a Stackelberg experiment is considered in order to answer the question whether framing individual decision making as organizational decision making or implementing an organizational structure is more effective in generating profit-maximizing behavior. Firms are either represented by individuals or by teams. Teams are organized according to Alchian and Demsetz's (1972) contractual view of the firm. I find that teams' quantity choices are more in line with the assumption of profit maximization than individuals' choices. Compared to individuals, teams appear to be less inequality averse.

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Paper provided by Kiel Institute for the World Economy in its series Economics Discussion Papers with number 2012-53.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifwedp:201253
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