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Administrative Issues. Response to Feedback. More cases Cases coming up GE vs. Westinghouse Bitter Competition African Communications Group Raytheon Lead time for ordering HBS cases such that we can’t add HBS cases at this point. Will try to add some “mini-cases.”

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Administrative Issues


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response to feedback
Response to Feedback
  • More cases
    • Cases coming up
      • GE vs. Westinghouse
      • Bitter Competition
      • African Communications Group
      • Raytheon
    • Lead time for ordering HBS cases such that we can’t add HBS cases at this point.
    • Will try to add some “mini-cases.”
    • Also some philosophy here about value of deductive vs. inductive learning for business.
    • Will post questions about HBS & other cases (as did with GE vs. Westinghouse).
feedback continued
Feedback continued …
  • More student participation
    • Okay, but two-way street – you have to talk up, ask questions, point out connections, etc.
  • Give more explanation and guidance about CSG
    • Will talk about in a moment
  • Give some guidance about the final exam
    • Final will consist of
      • Short problems to test understanding of theoretical ideas (1/3 roughly)
      • Short answer questions about aspects of strategic situations (1/3 roughly)
      • A case analysis (1/3 roughly)
    • I have posted some examples of the type of questions I’ve asked previously on the course web site (“Exam questions from old exam …”).
some things that are tricky
Some Things that are Tricky
  • Be more clear when assignments are due
    • … but best laid plans:
      • Confusion over when case reader would be ready
      • Technical problem with CSG
      • Stochastic elements in pacing of course
  • Switch to Catalyst
    • Never used it
    • Will look into it this weekend … but no promises.
one thing i won t do
One Thing I Won’t Do
  • Distribute printed handouts & lecture notes
    • Not clear there’s sufficient demand and not clear demand for what.
    • Expensive (even at 6 slides/page, double sided, talking 720 pages per lecture on average).
    • Logistically a pain:
      • Dear Haas Community, Unfortunately, BOTH Xerox digital copier / printers (rooms F-580 & S-545) are presently DOWN. Please do not send print jobs to either machine until further notice. Service is pending. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Yours truly,

Kurt, the Copy Guy

    • Fails the market test
slide6
CSG
  • Grading
    • Dependent on how you do given your situation.
    • Based on your strategy memorandum
  • It’s intended to be experiential learning
    • I “want” mistakes to happen because through their analysis we learn
    • Remember Carter Racing – you don’t learn a lot looking at just your successes
  • Clarification
    • You produce to order
how do coke pepsi make money
How do Coke & Pepsi Make Money?
  • Coke and Pepsi sell essentially undifferentiated products
  • Prices are widely known, often advertised
  • There are no consumer switching costs
  • No evidence of serious limits on capacity
  • No evidence of cost advantages
coke and pepsi recognize repeated interaction
Coke and Pepsi Recognize Repeated Interaction
  • Suppose Coke forbears cutting price today because it knows Pepsi will follow suit tomorrow.
  • Suppose Pepsi forbears cutting price today because it knows Coke will follow suit tomorrow.
  • Tradeoff for Coke or Pepsi is forgoing a larger market share today in order to avoid the Bertrand trap tomorrow.
method 6 exploit repeated play
Method 6: Exploit Repeated Play
  • If firms play repeatedly, then can use repeated play to sustain a form of cooperation on price known as tacit collusion
  • No firm cheats (undercuts rivals) because this will trigger a price war in the future (e.g., reversion to Bertrand competition).
to cheat or not to cheat that is the question

Profits from just undercutting rivals and capturing entire market.

Profits from matching rivals at monopoly price but sharing market.

To Cheat or Not to Cheat:That is the Question

Looking just at today:

Cheat

(undercut)

Cooperate

(tacitly collude)

PDV of profits

PDV of profits

1

time

time

to cheat or not to cheat that is the question1
To Cheat or Not to Cheat:That is the Question

Now take into account the future!

Cheat

(undercut)

Cooperate

(tacitly collude)

PDV of profits

PDV of profits

1

time

time

to cheat or not to cheat that is the question2
To Cheat or Not to Cheat:That is the Question

Cheat

(undercut)

Cooperate

(tacitly collude)

PDV of profits

PDV of profits

Smaller benefits today (because split market). But positive benefits in future.

Benefit today

But Bertrand trap forever after.

1

time

time

to cheat or not to cheat more firms
To Cheat or Not to Cheat:More Firms

Cheat

(undercut)

Cooperate

(tacitly collude)

PDV of profits

PDV of profits

1

time

time

to cheat or not to cheat higher interest rate
To Cheat or Not to Cheat:Higher Interest Rate

Cheat

(undercut)

Cooperate

(tacitly collude)

PDV of profits

PDV of profits

1

time

time

tacit collusion
Tacit Collusion
  • Tacit collusion is easier to sustain when
    • fewer firms (four or fewer if excess capacity)
    • interest rate low
to cheat or not to cheat dying industry
To Cheat or Not to Cheat:Dying Industry

Cheat

(undercut)

Cooperate

(tacitly collude)

Expected PDV of profits

Expected PDV of profits

1

time

time

dying industries
Dying Industries
  • In fact, if “death date” known with certainty, then cooperation generally not sustainable at all.
  • Backwards induction:
    • In last period there is no future period, so no punishment to deter cheating in last period. Hence cheating (Bertrand) in last period
    • But then same is true of penultimate period and so on back to first period.
general phenomenon
General Phenomenon
  • Firm going bankrupt not paid by other firms that owe it money.
  • Management problems when boss announces she’s leaving.
  • Basically don’t let others know the end is coming.
the issue with detection
The Issue with Detection

Cheat

(undercut)

Cooperate

(tacitly collude)

PDV of profits

PDV of profits

Detection

occurs

1

2

time

time

the issue with detection stochastic discovery demand fluctuation
The Issue with Detection:Stochastic Discovery (Demand Fluctuation)

Cheat

(undercut)

Cooperate

(tacitly collude)

PDV of profits

PDV of profits

Detection

occurs

Possibly lost to

mistaken price war

1

time

time

when demand fluctuates
When Demand Fluctuates
  • Play trigger strategies
  • Sometimes to avoid temptation, firms don’t charge maximum price during high-demand periods
    • Evidence that gasoline refiners don’t charge maximum price during summer, the high-demand season.
  • If too much (unpredictable) variability in demand, then would have price wars too often.
    • Hence, value of tacitly colluding is reduced.
    • Relative cost of cheating today is reduced.
    • So difficult or impossible to sustain tacit collusion.
making tacit collusion work
Making Tacit Collusion Work

no

Tacit collusion not an issue

Incentive to cut price?

yes

no

Easy to detect price cuts?

Tacit collusion will fail & the firms risk finding them-selves in the Bertrand trap

yes

no

Can serious punishments be inflicted?

yes

no

Firms willing to punish?

Tacit collusion is sustainable in equilibrium

yes

electronic components distribution industry
Electronic Components Distribution Industry
  • How do we assess the potential for tacit collusion in the electronic components distribution industry?
making tacit collusion work electronic components distribution industry
Making Tacit Collusion WorkElectronic Components Distribution Industry

no

Tacit collusion not an issue

Incentive to cut price?

yes

no

Easy to detect price cuts?

Tacit collusion will fail & the firms risk finding them-selves in the Bertrand trap

yes

no

Can serious punishments be inflicted?

yes

no

Firms willing to punish?

Tacit collusion is sustainable in equilibrium

yes

making tacit collusion work airline industry
Making Tacit Collusion WorkAirline Industry

no

Tacit collusion not an issue

Incentive to cut price?

yes

no

Easy to detect price cuts?

Tacit collusion will fail & the firms risk finding them-selves in the Bertrand trap

yes

no

Can serious punishments be inflicted?

yes

no

Firms willing to punish?

Tacit collusion is sustainable in equilibrium

yes

exiting a price war
Exiting a Price War
  • Need to signal that price war at end without engaging in illegal explicit collusion.
    • American Airlines and the NYT
    • Price leaders
      • Traditional leaders are
        • GM in automobiles
        • American Airlines in airline industry
        • Tesco is a price leader with respect to Asda and Sainsbury
    • Public adoption of means for facilitating tacit collusion
facilitating tacit collusion improving detection
Facilitating Tacit Collusion:Improving Detection
  • Firms want to make sure that
    • cheating is detected promptly
    • cheating is detected accurately
  • Numerous devices to make this work
    • public posting of prices
    • simplified pricing
      • e.g., GE and Westinghouse
      • airlines & per-mile pricing
    • collection & dissemination of prices (some antitrust issues—Maple Flooring Mfrs.’ Ass’n v. United States)
making punishments severe
Making Punishments Severe

Cheat

(undercut)

Cooperate

(tacitly collude)

PDV of profits

PDV of profits

1

time

time

making punishments severe1
Making Punishments Severe

Cheat

(undercut)

Cooperate

(tacitly collude)

PDV of profits

PDV of profits

Increase the severity of the punishment

1

time

time

how to make severe
How to Make Severe
  • Most Favored Nation Clauses
    • MFN: If cut price today, give refund to past customers.
      • Note: the other guy better adopt this too!
    • Also contemporaneous MFN: All customers get same price today (makes detection of price cutting easier)
how to make willing
How to Make Willing
  • Build in “doomsday devices”
    • Dr. Strangelove
  • Meeting the Competition Clauses (MCC)
    • state that will meet lowest price available
      • just advertised policy
      • or put into contracts (some antitrust issues)
    • if rival cuts price, either honor clause (a reputational or contractual obligation) or suffer consequences.

We miss you Stanley

tacit collusion on non price dimensions to lessen price competition
Tacit Collusion on Non-Price Dimensions to Lessen Price Competition
  • When tacit collusion on price would be difficult, firms can tacitly collude to maintain conditions that lessen price competition
  • Generally, these are conditions that make one of the assumptions of the Bertrand model fail.
  • Concept of market discipline.
tacit collusion on non price competition
Tacit Collusion on Non-Price Competition
  • Raising search costs
    • tacit agreements not to price advertise
    • not locating outlets near each other
  • Raising switching costs
    • making products incompatible with rivals’
    • signing customers to long-term contracts
    • Note: As we will see, these can also serve to deter entry.
tacit collusion on non price competition1
Tacit Collusion on Non-price Competition
  • Restrict capacity
    • Firms can tacitly agree not to expand capacity
    • Note: can be difficult to coordinate
      • Think about GE vs. Westinghouse
      • Industrial capacitor industry
      • In reverse: lead additive industry
product differentiation
Product Differentiation
  • Tacitly agree to split market on non-price dimensions
    • location: non-overlapping territories (usually invites antitrust scrutiny)
    • product space: e.g., split market between high-end and low-end
other dimensions of tacit collusion
Other Dimensions of Tacit Collusion
  • R&D
  • (Non-price) advertising
  • No poaching
take aways ge vs westinghouse
Take-aways GE vs. Westinghouse
  • Price fixing is illegal – you can go to jail for it.
  • Tacit collusion requires
    • An ability to detect deviation
    • Sufficient punishments
  • Sometimes need to facilitate tacit collusion
    • By improving ability to detect (e.g., multiplier, audits)
    • By increasing punishments, including use “doomsday devices” (e.g., MFN)
    • By serving as a price leader
conclusions
Conclusions
  • Recognizing repeated play can allow firms to avoid the Bertrand trap via tacit collusion.
    • Tacit collusion is distinct from explicit collusion or pricing fixing, which is illegal.
  • Tacit collusion works best when
    • The number of firms is relatively small.
    • The future is sufficiently important.
    • Detection of undercutting is easy and not too subject to error.
conclusions continued
Conclusions (continued …)
  • Firms can take steps to facilitate tacit collusion
    • Making prices public
    • Using MFN and MCC clauses to increase punishment
    • Signal to each other through the press and other means
    • But be careful: Devices intended to facilitate tacit collusion can run afoul of the antitrust authorities.
conclusions continued1
Conclusions (continued …)
  • The logic of repeated games has many applications in business. Among them …
    • Payments to bankrupt firms
    • Treatment of a leaving supervisor
    • Quality assurance (see reading)
    • Entry deterrence (upcoming)
list of some of the firms and industries mentioned
American Airlines

Asda

Coca-Cola

GE

Pepsi

Sainsbury

Tesco

Westinghouse

Airline industry

Electronic components distribution industry

Industrial capacitor industry

Lead additive industry

Maple flooring industry

List of some of the firms and industries mentioned