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Sunk Costs and Risk-Based Barriers to Entry

Robert S. Pindyck

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

February 2009

NBER Working Paper No. w14755

In merger analysis and other antitrust settings, risk is often cited as a potential barrier to entry. But there is little consensus as to the kinds of risk that matter - systematic versus non-systematic and industry-wide versus firm-specific - and the mechanisms through which they affect entry. I show how and to what extent different kinds of risk magnify the deterrent effect of exogenous sunk costs of entry, and thereby affect industry dynamics, concentration, and equilibrium market prices. To do this, I develop a measure of the "full," i.e., risk-adjusted, sunk cost of entry. I show that for reasonable parameter values, the full sunk cost is far larger than the direct measure of sunk cost typically used to analyze markets.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 36

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Date posted: February 26, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Pindyck, Robert S., Sunk Costs and Risk-Based Barriers to Entry (February 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w14755. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1349588

Contact Information

Robert S. Pindyck (Contact Author)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )
50 Memorial Drive, E52-450
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-6641 (Phone)
617-258-6855 (Fax)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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