Cartel Coordination and the Role of Payoff Asymmetries: Experimental Evidence on Partial Cartels
Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf - Duesseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE)
Holger Andreas Rau
University of Göttingen
This paper provides evidence on the coordination to partial cartels in the presence of payoff asymmetries. Firms face a coordination challenge when a partial cartel is to be formed as every firm is better off if it is not inside the cartel but is a free-riding outsider. We introduce a two-stage mechanism with communication which facilitates the formation of a cartel and respectively allows the formation of a partial cartel. Although theory predicts three-firm cartels to occur we hardly find firms coordinating to these cartels when communication is possible. Instead, in the communication treatments firms coordinate to all-inclusive cartels which are always formed. Our control treatments emphasize that coordination problems occur when chat is absent. Strikingly, firms seem to care about payoff asymmetries, i.e., partial cartels are frequently rejected out-of-equilibrium if outside firms profit excessively from the formation of the cartel.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 27
Keywords: Partial Cartels, Coordination, Communication, Experiment
JEL Classification: C92, D2, L41
Date posted: March 29, 2012 ; Last revised: October 16, 2014
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