Oligopoly is a market characterized by a few major providers accounting for the big bulk of gross revenues and a really big figure of purchasers.

Oligopoly theory was foremost introduced by Thomas More in 16ThursdayCentury in his chef-d’oeuvreUtopia( 1516 ) .

The theory was subsequently developed by the Gallic philosopher, mathematician and economic expert Antoine Augustin Cournot ( 1801-1877 ) . Ever since Cournot, oligopoly theory has provided a rich beginning of theoretical accounts: the plants of Bertrand ( 1822-1900 ) , Edgeworth ( 1845-1926 ) , Hotelling ( 1825 – 1908 ) and more recent plants utilizing game theory including Aumann, Selten and others.

The strategic interaction among houses over clip and oligopoly theory has been modelled largely through inactive tools and sometimes simplified. Recently surveies have stressed the importance of dynamic theoretical accounts besides and in this new attack communicating, information and mechanism of the market are considered chief influencers of the drama when figure are few.

Oligopolies nowadays represent a big bulk of markets in modern industrial states and of class their impact on the general economic system is singular. They are good established in several industries: malt drinks, coffin nails, electric ball bulbs, cereal breakfast nutrient, motor vehicles are merely some of the industries in which their presence is relevant.

In economic footings, this state of affairs exists when the optimum size of houses, at which mean cost is minimized, is so big that there is deficient infinite for a big figure of houses to vie in the same sphere. The deduction is clear: the optimum size represents a strong barrier to entry that allows the endurance of the oligopoly.

In footings of concentration the four-firm concentration ratio ( a step that expresses the market portion of the four largest houses in an industry as a per centum ) is above 40 % in this market construction. It is close 100 % in a monopoly, below 40 % in a monopolistic competition and really low in a perfect competitory market.

This market system is different from perfect competition because each house is big plenty to impact the market monetary value, but at the same clip is different from monopoly because there is more than one house. In oligopolies or concentrated industries the figure of houses is little plenty to give each of them some market power. They produce similar goods and each must take into history the behavior of the others.

Competition and the impact on economic public presentation

The analysis of oligopoly is concerned with the consequence of common mutuality among houses in pricing and end product pick because this mutuality makes the behavior of oligopolists hard to foretell.

Their competition is fundamentally based on a scheme of mutual influence to accomplish the best consequences in footings of production, gross revenues and net incomes. The best solution for the houses viing in this market, to maximise net incomes, would be maintaining their end product down and their monetary values up. But in long footings each house is tempted to increase its end product in order to take advantage of high monetary value. Furthermore, big houses do non stand to derive by raising the monetary value, even when demand is stiff, because this would let new houses to come in or bing houses to enlarge the size.

Another solution could be to organize a trust, organizing their behavior to maintain monetary values high. The hazard of this understanding is that the collusion may disintegrate as houses begin rip offing. To avoid this behavior of the participants of the trust strict regulations should be determined. In any instance in the long term, even when a trust has non worked houses are tempted to organize a new one, possibly with different participants or with under new regulations. The terminal of the game is that eventually a new period of collusion may get down.

Finally, but this possibility is rather improbable to go on, members of oligopoly might make up one’s mind to disregard their size and their ability to impact monetary values, on the thought that in the long tally any monetary value above norm cost would draw in new rivals, and act as if they were in a competitory market.

Whether Sellerss form a trust or vie depends on many factors, such as: the figure of Sellerss, their personalities, the sum of market portion and their costs.

Normally the sort of competition that is important in oligopolies is a non-price competition, in which houses try to separate their merchandise or service from the viing 1s on the footing of properties different from monetary value, like design and good quality.

These tools that are rather much more expensive than a scheme based on monetary values because involve promotional outgos, selling research, gross revenues publicities and other costs, but in long term these tools are more profitable than selling for a lower monetary value. With a better quality of service, extended distribution, better cognition of clients and superior employees and direction squad each company can construct a positive company repute, pull more clients and win the competition.

On the contrary, when companies start to vie on monetary values they start a competitory competition accompanied by a multi-lateral series of monetary value decrease. The concluding consequence of is a monetary value war.

The effects of this monetary value war are different and affect different topics in the short term and in the long term.

In the short term several unit of ammunitions of decrease are positive for consumers that pay good and services for lower monetary values while is profoundly negative for companies involved because a decrease of monetary values agencies lower net income borders that can endanger endurance.

In the long term houses unable to vie shut down, while the staying dominant houses absorb their market portion. Who lose in this game are merely enterprisers and people that have invested in fringy companies. Consumers free excessively because a stronger oligopoly is restored. With fewer houses monetary values are higher, sometimes even higher than before the monetary value war.

Because of this long procedure of accommodation oligopolists prefer non to vie on monetary values as they prefer to maintain a stable market.

In general, competition either in footings of monetary value or in footings of quality service or combinations of these and other factors is an of import procedure by which companies are obliged to better efficiency and offer a wider pick of merchandises at lower monetary values to the concluding consumers. Through competition houses engage in invention and surrogate technological alteration and advancement.

Although the sentiments sing oligopolies are sometimes contrasting, some argue that concentration and big graduated table houses are needed to vie in planetary markets. Those who sustain the demand of these constructions in the market bring as chief thought the construct of invention. They reckon that competition in oligopoly can give a large part to invention and technological advancement. The ground is that oligopolists operate in a context with high barriers to entry. This means that they compete in a sector hard to perforate because of high costs. If they can prolong those costs they can afford to pay immense sums of money to put in engineering and invention. They can afford all these costs that are non accessible to smaller houses in competitory markets.

Another point on which to hold with the being of monopolies is that in a state of affairs of oligopoly the chief intent of the big houses, which control the monetary value, is to maintain new houses out. When they have to repair the monetary value they do non worry about the reaction of consumers but more about the reaction of bing or possible challengers. For this ground they can non put the monetary value every bit high as they please because if net incomes are excessively high they attract foreigners in the industry.

That means that bar through monetary values policies combined with competitory force per unit area to take down costs brings oligopolists to finally portion the benefits of long term productiveness betterments with consumers in the signifier of lower monetary values.

If we consider merely this force per unit area on costs decrease we can non avoid thought of the positive effects on the society. Cost decrease, in fact, may hold three possible effects: First, lower costs imply higher net incomes, which can be consumed, invested, or hoarded ; 2nd, lower costs can be easy translated in higher rewards for employees ; last effect is evidently a decrease of monetary values with positive effects for the whole society. The effects of this competition, in these footings, are truly good for everybody. Furthermore, if the companies decide to put their net incomes the effects are even wider. Investings in new workss and new machineries mean an addition in entire production. Of class bigger size demands more workers, so employment rise excessively.

On the other side, among those who criticize the being and the regulations of oligopolies the chief construct is that largeness implies inefficiency of the market.

From economic theoretical accounts we know that efficiency in competitory economic systems require the monetary value of each good to be its fringy cost of production. This regulation is by and large violated in oligopolistic and monopolistic markets because it is ever possible to do alterations that allow houses to obtain larger net incomes. What happens so is a state of affairs in which monetary values are above the fringy costs and the end product available for consumer is below the efficient degree ( underproduction ) . In this manner the members of oligopolies with their strategic behaviors lead to results that are non in society’s best involvement.

Furthermore, this market is characterized by so high barriers to entry that is practically impossible for other houses to take advantage of net income chances. In many planetary industries, barriers to entry are going virtually unsurmountable. For illustration, no new house could perchance vie with the large six car groups.

Even merchandise distinction and advertisement represent singular barriers to entry that aggravate the consequence of market concentration. .

If we add to the job of efficiency and to barriers to entry the power such large organisations have to act upon the market, we absolutely understand why transnational companies are so contested among big figure of the population.

In order to rule, as members of oligopoly can’t dictate monetary value and handiness of goods and services like members of a monopoly, they sometimes turn into “friendly competitors” .

This pattern is really common and consists of several anti competition actions such as: conniving actions, either inexplicit ( monetary value leading ) or expressed ( monetary value repairing ) and exclusionary policies against possible challengers. The latter include marauding pricing, monetary value favoritism, binding understandings, division of markets and sole covering agreements.

All these actions have the common purpose to keep a stable market in order to derive from profitable monetary values.

Oligopoly besides represents besides one of the few ways to entree foreign markets. The oligopolistic competition for planetary market portions makes houses fit each other ‘s moves in come ining new foreign markets. Members of oligopoly in fact, one time certain of their “safety” in their domestic market, ( as they have achieved the coveted market portion ) , can concentrate on foreign investings.

The concluding purpose is to answer abroad the standard winning construction in order to work the market power they possess through selling expertness, control of engineering and managerial accomplishments, or entree to capital.

The consequence is that oligopoly is today made up of transnational companies that have chosen specific merchandise or service classs to rule. Through barriers to entry, mute understanding and weak ordinance system they can easy hold control over the economic and political system.

The odds are that the purpose of these corporations is non to go monopolizers but live the manner they are because going monopolizers means besides pull more attending of regulators. Presents in fact governmental ordinances are more concerned about monopolistic competition, in which violations of regulations is more apparent and where maltreatment of dominant houses is less tolerated by consumers.

The function of Government

From what we have seen so far, oligopolistic houses are more likely to present technological invention and more efficient production methods to their industries than little companies of a competitory market. On the other side, they sometimes tend to smother competition and maltreatment of the power that their size creates.

Every clip, in fact, some dominant houses become inefficient, they still remain in the market and survive for many old ages utilizing unjust or illegal tools to avoid competition or to forestall new entries. The function of Government in this event is to step in with a policy towards laterality. Governments should keep feasible competition by advancing a competitory market construction and just competitory patterns. They must modulate both industrial and fiscal markets, see if demand grows fast adequate to keep sustainable degree of employment and more in general footings take whatever actions to forestall any inclination towards inequality and instability. Even control over transverse boundary line capital flows and direct foreign investings must be important parts of this political action.

Antimonopoly policies should concentrate above all on the public assistance of consumers. They should be concerned chiefly with monetary value repairing or market cleavage that does non let legitimate economic activity, horizontal amalgamations to extinguish challengers in the market, and consider predation that consequences in monetary values below variable costs with the clear purpose of extinguishing challengers.


From economic theory we know that any market construction has a strong influence on behavior and economic public presentation within an industry.

Competition in natural oligopolies is cardinal in the procedure of accomplishing fast capital accretion and invention. These beginnings represent the indispensable forces towards high long-run productiveness growing.

However, positive deductions of competition in an oligopoly have to portion room with negative behaviors of the rivals.

Society can non trust entirely on market mechanism to guarantee that powerful groups of companies will run with regard of the involvements of the population. In order to coerce all participants to act harmonizing to the just regulations of competition the market needs to be regulated by authorities organic structures. These administrations should be both competent and politically isolated from the corporation they oversee. All authoritiess should reconstruct their ability to make effectual signifiers of ordinance of international corporations guaranting that these oligopolies act in the involvement of the consumers.

In sing possible client benefits, they will necessitate to determine that market characteristics do so take to greater invention, lower monetary values, higher quality or wider pick and that they are both attributable to the market characteristics. They would be given to ignore benefits that are strictly bad, or would merely originate at some excessively distant clip in the hereafter.



Michael Nicholoson, 1972.Oligopoly and struggle: a dynamic attack.Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

Paolo Sylos Labini and Elizabeth Henderson, 1969.Oligopoly and proficient advancement.Cambridge, Massachusetts: Revised edition, Harvard University Press.

James W. Friedman,1977.Oligopoly and the theory of games.Dutch capital: North-Holland publication Co.

A.A. Counot and Andrew F. Daughety, 1988.Cournot oligopoly: word picture and applications.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

P.A. Geroski, L. Phlips and A. Ulph, 1985.Oligopoly, competion and public assistance.Oxford: Basil Blackwell in cooperation with The diary of industrial economic sciences.

James W. Friedman, 1983.Oligopoly theory.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Martin Shubik, 1975. Oligopoly Theory, Communication and Information.The American Economic Reappraisal,65( 2 ) , pp.280-283.

Giacomo Bonanno,1988. Oligopoly Equilibria when houses have local cognition of demand.International Economic Review,29( 1 ) , pp.45-55

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