How much you talk matters: cheap talk and collusion in a Bertrand oligopoly game

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2020-05-01
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Lee, Jun Yeong
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Hoffman, Elizabeth
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Economics

The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 to teach economic theory as a truth of industrial life, and was very much concerned with applying economics to business and industry, particularly agriculture. Between 1910 and 1967 it showed the growing influence of other social studies, such as sociology, history, and political science. Today it encompasses the majors of Agricultural Business (preparing for agricultural finance and management), Business Economics, and Economics (for advanced studies in business or economics or for careers in financing, management, insurance, etc).

History
The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 under the Division of Industrial Science (later College of Liberal Arts and Sciences); it became co-directed by the Division of Agriculture in 1919. In 1910 it became the Department of Economics and Political Science. In 1913 it became the Department of Applied Economics and Social Science; in 1924 it became the Department of Economics, History, and Sociology; in 1931 it became the Department of Economics and Sociology. In 1967 it became the Department of Economics, and in 2007 it became co-directed by the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Business.

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1898–present

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  • Department of Economic Science (1898–1910)
  • Department of Economics and Political Science (1910-1913)
  • Department of Applied Economics and Social Science (1913–1924)
  • Department of Economics, History and Sociology (1924–1931)
  • Department of Economics and Sociology (1931–1967)

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This study investigates the impact of cheap talk on price in a repeated Bertrand oligopoly experiment. Each participant plays 20 rounds. Participants are placed in three-person bidding groups where the lowest bid wins. During the first 10 rounds, participants are not allowed to communicate with each other. All three-person groups converged to the zero-profit equilibrium in the first 10 periods. We then play another 10 rounds where participants can text with one another using an instant message system. Some groups were allowed to text before every round, some to text before every other round, some to text every third round, some to text every fourth round, and some to text only every fifth round. When texting is allowed, All groups attempt to collude to raise the price after being allowed to text, but the only groups who can maintain the higher price and converge over time to the joint-profit maximum are the groups who can text before every period. Hence, cheap talk is only effective when subjects can continuously monitor or converse.

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