Article

Partial compatibility in oligopoly

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

This paper examines the issue of product compatibility in an oligopoly with three multi-product firms. Whereas most of the existing literature focuses on the extreme cases of full compatibility or full incompatibility, we look at asymmetric settings in which some firms make their products compatible with a standard technology and others do not. Our analysis reveals each firm’s individual incentive to adopt the standard, and allows to study a two-stage game in which first each firm chooses its technological regime (compatibility or incompatibility), then price competition occurs given the regime each firm has selected at stage one. When firms are ex ante symmetric, we find that for each firm compatibility weakly dominates incompatibility. In a setting in which a firm’s products have higher quality than its rivals’ products, individual incentives to make products incompatible emerge, first for the firm with higher quality products, then also for the other firms, as the quality difference increases. This paper sheds lights on markets in which some firms adopt the standard technology but other firms use proprietary systems.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
Research on collusion in vertically differentiated markets is conducted under one or two potentially restrictive assumptions. Either there is a single industry-wide cartel or costs are assumed to be independent of quality or quantity. We explore the extent to which these assumptions are indeed restrictive by relaxing both. For a wide range of coalition structures, profit-maximizing cartels of any size price most of their lower quality products out of the market as long as production costs do not increase too much with quality. If these costs rise sufficiently, however, then market share is maintained for all product variants. All cartel sizes may emerge in equilibrium when exclusively considering individual deviations, but the industry-wide cartel is the only one immune to deviations by coalitions of members. Overall, our findings suggest that firms have a strong incentive to coordinate prices when the products involved are vertically differentiated.
Article
Full-text available
This note considers cartel stability when the cartelized products are vertically differentiated. If market shares are maintained at pre-collusive levels, then the firm with the lowest competitive price-cost margin has the strongest incentive to deviate from the collusive agreement. The lowest-quality supplier has the tightest incentive constraint when the difference in unit production costs is sufficiently small.
Article
Full-text available
This article offers an equilibrium theory of product bundling by rival firms. In several models where a primary good is produced in a duopoly market and one or more other goods is produced under perfectly competitive conditions, bundling is shown to emerge as an equilibrium strategy of one or both of the duopolists for its role as a product-differentiation device. When the rival firms can commit to bundling sales, their profits are higher but social welfare is reduced. Copyright 1997 by University of Chicago Press.
Article
Full-text available
In industries where consumers can assemble their own systems, firms must decide whether to make their components compatible with those of their rivals. We examine a two-stage game in which two fully integrated firms make their compatibility decisions before competing in prices. The symmetric perfect Nash equilibrium of this game is shown to involve full compatibility. Although compatibility leads to higher prices than incompatibility, it also increases the variety of systems available so that some consumers are better off with compatibility, while others are hurt. If standardization is costless, compatibility increases social surplus but may decrease consumer surplus.
Article
Full-text available
The Chamberlinian monopolistically competitive equilibrium has been explored and extended in a number of recent papers. These analyses have paid only cursory attention to the existence of an industry outside the Chamberlinian group. In this article I analyze a model of spatial competition in which a second commodity is explicitly treated. In this two-industry economy, a zero-profit equilibrium with symmetrically located firms may exhibit rather strange properties. First, demand curves are kinked although firms make "Nash" conjectures. If equilibrium lies at the kink, the effects of parameter changes are perverse. In the short run, prices are rigid in the face of small cost changes. In the long run, increases in costs lower equilibrium prices. Increases in market size raise prices. The welfare properties are also perverse at a kinked equilibrium.
Article
Full-text available
The author compares the incentives firms have to produce individual components compatible with components of other manufacturers instead of "systems" composed of components that are incompatible with components of competing manufacturers. He shows that, even in the absence of positive consumption externalities (" network" externalities), prices and profits will be higher in the regime of compatibility. Equilibrium total surplus could be higher in either regime. Both regimes overprovide variety compared to the surplus-maximizing solution. Copyright 1989 by American Economic Association.
Article
Full-text available
A model of product differentiation which combines elements of both spatial and representative consumer formulations is used to examine the properties of single- and multiple-price equilibria. Conditions under which decreases in the intensity of consumer preferences reduce price are given. It is shown that, with certain types of demand curves, entry can eliminate price-cost markups even given product differentiation. If competition is localized, it is demonstrated that entry does not affect the markup. Finally, the effect of spurious product differentiation on price is examined.
Article
We study how bundling affects competition between two asymmetric multi-product firms. One firm dominates the other in that it produces better products more efficiently. For low (high) levels of dominance, bundling intensifies (relaxes) price competition and lowers (raises) both firms’ profits. For intermediate dominance levels, bundling increases the dominant firm’s market share substantially, thereby raising its profit while reducing its rival’s profit. Hence, the threat to bundle is then a credible foreclosure strategy. We also identify circumstances in which a firm that dominates only in some markets can profitably leverage its dominance to other markets by tying all its products. (JEL D43, K21, L13, L41)
Article
This paper proposes a framework for studying competitive (pure) bundling in an oligopoly market. We find that under fairly general conditions, relative to separate sales, bundling raises market prices, benefits firms, and harms consumers when the number of firms is above a threshold (which can be small). This is in contrast to the findings in the duopoly case on which the existing literature often focuses. Our analysis also sheds new light on how consumer valuation dispersion affects price competition more generally.
Article
We investigate private and social incentives for standardization to ensure market-wide system compatibility in a two-dimensional spatial competition model. We develop a new methodology to analyze competition on a torus and show that there is a fundamental conflict of interest between consumers and producers over the standardization decision. Consumers prefer standardization with full compatibility because it offers more variety that confers a better match with their ideal specifications. However, firms are likely to choose the minimal compatibility to maximize product differentiation and soften competition. This is in sharp contrast to the previous literature that shows the alignment of private and social incentives for compatibility.
Article
Tremendous differences in producer productivity levels exist, even within narrowly defined industries. This paper explores the influence of product substitutability in an industry on this disparity. When consumers can easily switch between producers, inefficient (high-cost) producers cannot operate profitably. Thus high-substitutability industries should exhibit less productivity dispersion and have higher average productivity levels. I demonstrate this mechanism in a simple industry equilibrium model and test it empirically using producer-level data from 443 U.S. manufacturing industries. I find evidence that substitutability measured in several ways'is indeed negatively related to within-industry productivity dispersion and positively related to median productivity. Copyright (c) 2004 President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Article
We briefly review the rationale behind technological alliances and provide a snapshot of their role in global competition, especially insofar as it is based around intellectual capital. They nicely illustrate the increased importance of horizontal agreements and thus establish the relevance of the topic. We move on to discuss the organisation of industries in a dynamic context and draw out consequences for competition policy. We conclude with an outlook on the underlying tensions between technology alliances, competition policy, and industrial policy.
Article
We study the "backbone market" in the Internet. After discussing the structure of the Internet, we use an extension of the Katz-Shapiro network model to analyze the strategies that would be used by dominant backbone. We show that a larger backbone prefers a lower quality interconnection than the smaller one. We then analyze a "targeted degradation" strategy where the larger backbone lowers the quality of interconnection to its smaller rivals in turn. Finally, we show that the qualitative results are robust to the possibility of "multihoming" by clients. Copyright 2000 by Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Article
The analytical literature on commodity bundling explains the practice of selling two or more differentiated products in a single package as a surrogate for direct price discrimination. In contrast, this paper shows that imperfect competition creates a strategic incentive to bundle. The profitability of bundling, whether it adversely affects rival producers, and whether it yields an overall efficiency gain depends inter alia on the nature of product market competition. The role of complementarity in explaining why firms bundle is also explored. Copyright 1990 by Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Mix-and-match compatibility in asymmetric system markets
  • Hahn