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

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

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Friedman, Daniel & Huck, Steffen & Oprea, Ryan & Weidenholzer, Simon, 2012. "From imitation to collusion: Long-run learning in a low-information environment," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2012-301r, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbeoc:spii2012301r
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Jörg Oechssler & Alex Roomets & Stefan Roth, 2016. "From imitation to collusion: a replication," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(1), pages 13-21, May.
    2. Nax, Heinrich H. & Burton-Chellew, Maxwell N. & West, Stuart A. & Young, H. Peyton, 2016. "Learning in a black box," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 1-15.
    3. Harrington, Joseph E. & Hernan Gonzalez, Roberto & Kujal, Praveen, 2016. "The relative efficacy of price announcements and express communication for collusion: Experimental findings," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 251-264.
    4. repec:eee:gamebe:v:106:y:2017:i:c:p:209-226 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Luhan, Wolfgang J. & Poulsen, Anders U. & Roos, Michael W.M., 2017. "Real-time tacit bargaining, payoff focality, and coordination complexity: Experimental evidence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 687-699.
    6. Karl H.Schlag, 2015. "Who gives Direction to Statistical Testing? Best Practice meets Mathematically Correct Tests," Vienna Economics Papers 1512, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
    7. Nobuyuki Hanaki & Angela Sutan & Marc Willinger, 2016. "The Strategic Environment Effect in Beauty Contest Games," GREDEG Working Papers 2016-05, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.
    8. Nan Zhou & Li Zhang & Shijian Li & Zhijian Wang, 2018. "Algorithmic Collusion in Cournot Duopoly Market: Evidence from Experimental Economics," Papers 1802.08061, arXiv.org.
    9. Oechssler, Jörg & Roomets, Alex & Roth, Stefan, 2015. "From Imitation to Collusion - A Comment," Working Papers 0588, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
    10. repec:zbw:espost:168050 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Bigoni, Maria & Fort, Margherita, 2013. "Information and learning in oligopoly: An experiment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 192-214.
    12. Heinrich H. Nax & Maxwell N. Burton-Chellew & Stuart A. West & H. Peyton Young, 2013. "Learning in a Black Box," Working Papers hal-00817201, HAL.
    13. Segismundo S. Izquierdo & Luis R. Izquierdo, 2015. "The “Win-Continue, Lose-Reverse” Rule In Oligopolies: Robustness Of Collusive Outcomes," Advances in Complex Systems (ACS), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 18(05n06), pages 1-23, August.
    14. Nax, Heinrich H. & Burton-Chellew, Maxwell N. & West, Stuart A. & Young, H. Peyton, 2016. "Learning in a black box," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 68714, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    15. Peiran Jiao, 2015. "The Double-Channeled Effects of Experience on Individual Investment Decisions: Experimental Evidence," Economics Series Working Papers 766, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    16. Helland, Leif & Moen, Espen R. & Preugschat, Edgar, 2017. "Information and coordination frictions in experimental posted offer markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 53-74.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cournot oligopoly; imitation; learning dynamics; cooperation;

    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection

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