Journal of Economics & Management Strategy

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Latest documents

  • Are patent fees effective at weeding out low‐quality patents?

    The paper investigates whether patent fees are an effective mechanism to deter the filing of low‐quality patent applications. The study analyzes the effect on patent quality of the Patent Law Amendment Act of 1982, which resulted in a substantial increase in patenting fees at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Results from a series of difference‐in‐differences regressions suggest that the increase in fees led to a weeding out of low‐quality patents. About 10% of patents in the lowest quality decile were filtered out, with the effect concentrated in the patents of firms whose overall patent portfolio was medium to large (more than 20 patents). The study has strong policy implications in the current context of concerns about declines in patent quality.

  • Do retail mergers affect competition? Evidence from grocery retailing

    This study estimates the price effects of horizontal mergers in the U.S. grocery retailing industry. We examine fourteen regions affected by mergers, including mergers in highly concentrated and relatively unconcentrated markets. We identify price effects by comparing markets affected by mergers to unaffected markets using difference‐in‐difference estimation with three different comparison groups, propensity score weights, and by using the synthetic control method. Our results are robust to the choice of control group and estimation technique. We find that mergers in highly concentrated markets are most frequently associated with price increases, and mergers in less concentrated markets are most often associated with price decreases.

  • Contests with endogenous deadlines

    This paper analyzes the problem of a contest designer who chooses a starting time and a deadline of the contest to maximize discounted total effort by the contestants. Each contestant secretly decides how much effort to exert between the starting time and the deadline. At the deadline, the contestant who exerted most effort wins a prize, which consists of the endowment of the designer and collected interest. The contest has a unique Nash equilibrium. In the main model, the designer should announce the contest immediately with a short deadline to promote intense competition. I analyze how the optimal starting time and deadline change for a variable contest prize, different types of asymmetries, a Tullock lottery contest success function, and different goal functions of the designer.

  • Rent sharing to control noncartel supply in the German cement market

    A challenge for many cartels is avoiding a destabilizing increase in noncartel supply in response to having raised price. In the case of the German cement cartel that operated over 1991–2002, the primary source of noncartel supply was imports from Eastern European cement manufacturers. Testimonies in a private enforcement case have claimed that the cartel sought to control imports by sharing rents with intermediaries in order to discourage them from sourcing foreign supply. Specifically, cartel members would allow an intermediary to issue the invoice for a transaction and charge a fee even though the output went directly from the cartel member's plant to the customer. We investigate this claim by first developing a theory of collusive pricing that takes account of the option of bribing intermediaries. The theory predicts that the cement cartel members are more likely to share rents with an intermediary when the nearest Eastern European plant is closer and there is more Eastern European capacity outside of the control of the cartel. Estimating a logit model that predicts when a cartel member sells through an intermediary, the empirical analysis supports both predictions.

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  • The magic of the new: How job changes affect job satisfaction

    We investigate a crucial event for job satisfaction: changing one's workplace. For representative German panel data, we show that the reason why the previous employment ended is strongly linked to satisfaction with the new job. Workers initiating a change of employer experience extraordinarily high job satisfaction, though in the short term only. To investigate causality, we exploit the event of plant closure as an exogenous trigger of job switching. In this case, we find no significantly positive effect of job changes on job satisfaction. Our findings complement research on workers’ well‐being and concern labor market policies and human resource management.

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  • Learning quality through prices and word‐of‐mouth communication

    This paper studies the effect of word‐of‐mouth communication on the optimal pricing strategy for new experience goods. I consider a dynamic monopoly model with asymmetric information about product quality, in which consumers learn in equilibrium from both prices and other consumers. The main result is that word‐of‐mouth communication is essential for the existence of separating equilibria, wherein the high‐quality monopolist signals high quality through a low introductory price (lower than the monopoly price), and the low‐quality one charges the monopoly price. The intuition is simple: low prices are costly, and will only be used by firms confident enough that increased experimentation (and therefore communication among consumers) will yield good news about quality and increased future profits. Additional results are the following: for the high‐quality seller, the expected price (quantity) is increasing (decreasing) over time; whereas for the low‐quality one, the opposite is true. Moreover, signaling becomes more difficult when consumers pay less attention to their peers' reports and more attention to past prices. Finally, word‐of‐mouth communication improves consumer welfare.

  • Price and quality competition with quality positions

    In this study, we investigate price and quality decisions in a duopoly in the presence of firms’ quality positions , which are determined by the quality levels of their existing core products. Into a standard model of vertical differentiation, we incorporate a “repositioning cost” that is proportional to the quality differences between firms’ current and new products. By varying the levels of quality positions, we analyze the impact of this cost on the equilibrium outcomes. Our results show that the presence of repositioning costs restricts firms’ abilities to improve profitability and differentiate themselves vertically. As a result, a high‐positioned firm does not necessarily have a competitive advantage over a low‐positioned firm, even if the former offers a superior new product in equilibrium. In addition, if a low‐positioned firm is significantly cost‐efficient compared with its rival with regard to repositioning, then that firm can earn higher profits than those of a high‐positioned firm by strategically offering its low‐end product. These results contrast sharply with those based on the standard vertical differentiation model.

  • The O‐ring theory of the firm

    We develop an O‐ring production function characterized by specialization and division of labor and where shirking or negative shocks can have major adverse consequences. We show that when the principal can monitor individual output, the firm tends be large (potentially larger than first best), with a high degree of specialization and division of labor, weak incentives, and low pay as in traditional nonunion manufacturing. Moral hazard can only limit the size of the firm relative to the first best when the principal can only monitor team output, in which case the firm has the opposite characteristics.

Featured documents

  • First mover or higher quality? Optimal product strategy in markets with positive feedbacks

    Conventional wisdom holds that in markets with positive feedbacks being first to market can matter more than product quality. In this paper, we test that intuition within a generalized Pólya urn model. We find that if we assume constant feedbacks, in the long run, higher quality products dominate...

  • Group Buying Commitment and Sellers’ Competitive Advantages

    This paper examines a model of duopoly firms selling to an exogenously formed buyer group consisting of members with heterogeneous preferences. Two research questions are addressed: (1) when is it optimal for a buyer group to commit to exclusive purchase from a single seller, and (2) how does the...

  • Copyright Enforcement: Evidence from Two Field Experiments

    Effective dispute resolution is important for reducing private and social costs. We study how resolution responds to changes in price and communication using a new, extensive data set of copyright infringement incidences by firms. The data cover two field experiments run by a large stock‐photography...

  • Honest versus Misleading Certification

    This paper questions the honesty of third‐party certification in the market for a good whose environmental quality is not observable by consumers. The certifier maximizes a weighted sum of its own revenue and social welfare. The higher the relative weight placed on revenue, the stronger the...

  • Input Hedging, Output Hedging, and Market Power

    We argue that commodity input hedging is different from commodity output hedging. Output hedging can be detrimental to “sector play.” Furthermore, firms with market power that hedge outputs have incentives to over‐produce and distort market prices. In rational markets, such hedging will be...

  • Product Unbundling in the Travel Industry: The Economics of Airline Bag Fees

    This paper provides theory and evidence on airline bag fees, offering insights into a real‐world case of product unbundling. The theory predicts that an airline's fares should fall when it introduces a bag fee, but that the full‐trip price (the bag fee plus the new fare) could either rise or fall....

  • Quotas, Productivity, and Prices: The Case of Anchovy Fishing

    I exploit a 2009 reform that introduced individual fishing quotas (catch shares) for Peruvian anchovy—the largest fishery in the world—to assess the causal impact of production quotas on within‐firm productivity and market prices. Unique features of the data allow me to create two alternative...

  • Bailing on the Car That Was Not Bailed Out: Bounding Consumer Reactions to Financial Distress

    We examine how consumers react to the financial distress of durable goods manufacturers by studying the Swedish new car market. We employ a difference‐in‐differences matching methodology whereby we compare sales of carmaker Saab with those of a control group of substitute products. To account for...

  • Capacity Investment under Demand Uncertainty: The Role of Imports in the U.S. Cement Industry

    Demand uncertainty is thought to influence irreversible capacity decisions. Suppose that local demand can be sourced from domestic (rigid) production or from (flexible) imports. This paper shows that the optimal domestic capacity is either increasing or decreasing with demand uncertainty, depending ...

  • Executive Pay, Innovation, and Risk‐Taking

    This paper analyzes the optimal equity pay mix in a setting in which executives face career concerns and must be motivated to search for innovative investment ideas and to make appropriate decisions regarding whether to pursue the uncovered idea. I show that, depending on the value of the firm's...

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