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By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Explain why and how oligopolies exist
  • Contrast collusion and competition
  • Interpret and analyze the prisoner’s dilemma diagram
  • Evaluate the tradeoffs of imperfect competition

Many purchases that individuals make at the retail level are produced in markets that are neither perfectly competitive, monopolies, nor monopolistically competitive. Rather, they are oligopolies. Oligopoly arises when a small number of large firms have all or most of the sales in an industry. Examples of oligopoly abound and include the auto industry, cable television, and commercial air travel. Oligopolistic firms are like cats in a bag. They can either scratch each other to pieces or cuddle up and get comfortable with one another. If oligopolists compete hard, they may end up acting very much like perfect competitors, driving down costs and leading to zero profits for all. If oligopolists collude with each other, they may effectively act like a monopoly and succeed in pushing up prices and earning consistently high levels of profit. Oligopolies are typically characterized by mutual interdependence where various decisions such as output, price, advertising, and so on, depend on the decisions of the other firm(s). Analyzing the choices of oligopolistic firms about pricing and quantity produced involves considering the pros and cons of competition versus collusion at a given point in time.

Why do oligopolies exist?

A combination of the barriers to entry that create monopolies and the product differentiation that characterizes monopolistic competition can create the setting for an oligopoly. For example, when a government grants a patent for an invention to one firm, it may create a monopoly. When the government grants patents to, for example, three different pharmaceutical companies that each has its own drug for reducing high blood pressure, those three firms may become an oligopoly.

Similarly, a natural monopoly    will arise when the quantity demanded in a market is only large enough for a single firm to operate at the minimum of the long-run average cost curve. In such a setting, the market has room for only one firm, because no smaller firm can operate at a low enough average cost to compete, and no larger firm could sell what it produced given the quantity demanded in the market.

Quantity demanded in the market may also be two or three times the quantity needed to produce at the minimum of the average cost curve—which means that the market would have room for only two or three oligopoly firms (and they need not produce differentiated products). Again, smaller firms would have higher average costs and be unable to compete, while additional large firms would produce such a high quantity that they would not be able to sell it at a profitable price. This combination of economies of scale and market demand creates the barrier to entry, which led to the Boeing-Airbus oligopoly for large passenger aircraft.

The product differentiation at the heart of monopolistic competition can also play a role in creating oligopoly. For example, firms may need to reach a certain minimum size before they are able to spend enough on advertising and marketing to create a recognizable brand name. The problem in competing with, say, Coca-Cola or Pepsi is not that producing fizzy drinks is technologically difficult, but rather that creating a brand name and marketing effort to equal Coke or Pepsi is an enormous task.

Questions & Answers

what are the money value
Wisdom Reply
Nothing more than a purchase power, in other words, $100 now, must have the same value after 1 year.
Carlos
what is Monopoly
Rebecca Reply
what is money
Lawal Reply
It can be define as a big transaction that can control any business for one place to another base.
Akinlo
money is recognisable note to accept both parties selling and buying
Hassan
i don still understan
Rene
hey
Abdul
hi
Rene
money is anything generally accepted as a medium of exchange
Awwal
Money is anything generally accepted as a medium of exchange and for the settlement of goods and services .
Korda
hi good ppl, pls help out
Tumi
discuss human and natural resources as develop strategies ro improving living condition of citizens in developing countries.
Tumi
I don't understand the question.
Naomi
it's a form of currency used for 2 or more individuals or parties in order to reach their amicable personal or business attainment. one must understand that money itself can manifest in multiple fashions for which the individuals or parties adheres.
are u trying to say we shld discuss ways in which human natural resources help in improving living condition of citizens in developing countries?
Naomi
money is a legal thunder generally accepted as a medium of exchange for the payment of debt ,goods and services
Naomi
money is a way of payment.
Carlos
money is any thing that is generally accepted as a medium of exchange good for good and settlement of debt and means of payment
Yillah
money is nothing but a object which is used for exchange of goods and services.
Harshita
money is anything that is generally accepted as payment of goods and services and settlement of debt
Rebecca
what is demand
Melissa Reply
demand is where the customer is willing and able to buy goods and services during a given period of time
idk
demand is the ability and willingness of an individual to buy goods and services at a given price in a particular period of time
Alpha
demand is the ability to buy a specific quantities of goods and services at a given price and at a specific period of time
rosemary
what are the rules of demand
rosemary
Rosemary Nsebon, Do you mean laws of demand?
Alpha
what are the rules of demand
Rene
the rule of demand is the higher the price the lower the quantity demanded and the lower the price the higher the quantity demanded
mbi
thank
Rene
what is unemployment
Rebecca
unemployment is a scenario or a phenomenon in an economy whereby people are willing are able to work but cannot a job
mbi
Suppose you have a team of two workers: one is a baker and one is a chef. Explain why the kitchen can produce more meals in a given period of time if each worker specializes in what they do best than if each worker tries to do everything from appetizer to dessert. please I need a urgent answer
Oladosu Reply
Enables individuals and countries to consume a variety of goods and services
Iddrisu
what is the meaning of competency
Oladosu Reply
competency is an ability and courage to do something perfectly
Abdullahi
ability to perform some task
Segun
rival
Ray
thanks 🙏 it is also the same with the core competency
Oladosu
A sufficient supply
Ebenezer
Ebenezer you mean the (core competency) right?
Oladosu
what is mean,median and mode
Ikeh Reply
mean is the average number of a given data
Gallant
median is the middle number of a given data
Gallant
in a given data sorry
Mitchel
hi
Sajib
Pls am new here
Physcal
what are development bank in Nigeria
Adedigba Reply
.hi
Physcal
hi
Adedigba
hw
Physcal
and cool
Rosie
nice to meet everyone
Rosie
hi how are dears
Mumtaz
how can we development economic in our country
Mumtaz
hi
Charm
Payroll and​ 4p
Wasuroj
Agriculture
Wasuroj
Export
Wasuroj
Transport
Wasuroj
Change management​ and​ cerrancy
Wasuroj
Empoyee
Wasuroj
Lawyer army and​ Lawyer​
Wasuroj
animal husbandry essay
Rakuane Reply
what's the primary location of capital and money market respectively
ALIMI
what is bank
Nyakeh Reply
A bank is an institution set up purposely for the save keeping of money and other valuables
Alpha
A bank is a financial institution which helps people to save their money
Cyprian
pls define the HRM and HRP
Mumtaz
we have no money in bank....the bank owes us
Ray
When a supply curve start from the origin price elasticity of supply is unitory. Provide a simple proof
Felix Reply
Oui
Bobbo
please help someone should help me this question
Felix
ok
Anita
what is price
Divine Reply
the perchesing amount of something is called price
Nasir
OK pls tell me about economic elasticity of supply and demand
Mumtaz Reply
elasticity in economics is a measurement of the ratio of percentage change in quantity of a particular commodity to the percentage change in a factor that influence demand-price, consumer's income and price of another good
Epie
same with supply. How ever economics focus only on price elasticity of supply(PES)
Epie
using diagrams defferentiate between price ceiling and price floors
VIDELIS Reply
price ceiling lies below the equilibrium price and vice versa
Freeman
who is a broker
ALIMI Reply
a broker is a middle person between two other parties who makes all the arrangements required to conduct the the transaction.
rkesh

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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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