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From imitation to collusion: Long-run learning in a low-information environment

  • Friedman, Daniel
  • Huck, Steffen
  • Oprea, Ryan
  • Weidenholzer, Simon

We explore the stability of imitation in a 1,200-period experimental Cournot game where subjects do not know the payoff function but see the output quantities and payoffs of each oligopolist after every period. In line with theoretical predictions and previous experimental findings, our oligopolies reach highly competitive levels within 50 periods. However, already after 100 periods quantities start to drop and, eventually fall deep into collusive territory without pausing at the Nash equilibrium. Our results demonstrate how groups of subjects can learn their way out of dysfunctional heuristics, and thus suggest the need for a new theory of how cooperation emerges.

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Paper provided by Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) in its series Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change with number SP II 2012-301.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbeoc:spii2012301
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  2. José Apesteguía & Steffen Huck & Jorg Oechssler, 2003. "Imitation-Theory and Experimental Evidence-," Documentos de Trabajo - Lan Gaiak Departamento de Economía - Universidad Pública de Navarra 0306, Departamento de Economía - Universidad Pública de Navarra.
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  7. Karl H. Schlag, 1995. "Why Imitate, and if so, How? A Bounded Rational Approach to Multi-Armed Bandits," Discussion Paper Serie B 361, University of Bonn, Germany, revised Mar 1996.
  8. Steffen Huck & Hans-Theo Normann & Joerg Oechssler, 1997. "Learning in Cournot Oligopoly - An Experiment," Game Theory and Information 9707009, EconWPA, revised 22 Jul 1997.
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  19. Steffen Huck & Hans-Theo Normann & Joerg Oechssler, 2004. "Through Trial and Error to Collusion," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(1), pages 205-224, 02.
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  26. Schlag, Karl H., 1994. "Why Imitate, and if so, How? Exploring a Model of Social Evolution," Discussion Paper Serie B 296, University of Bonn, Germany.
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