Imitation and price competition in a differentiated market

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Abhimanyu Khan, Ronald Peeters
Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control
Issue number: 
Volume 82, September 2017
Journal pages: 
We study the stable market outcome that evolves in a spatially differentiated market when price-competing firms choose actions by imitation of the most profitable firm. We compare and contrast the stable outcomes under two imitation procedures: one, where each firm immediately imitates the most profitable firm, and the other when a firm imitates another firm only if it is more profitable while being “sufficiently similar” (in context of the market segment it operates in) or “sufficiently close”. In either case, the symmetric pure strategy Nash equilibrium is always a stable outcome. However, when imitation of the most profitable firm is immediate and market differentiation is ‘moderate’, states with prices lower than the Nash equilibrium are also stable. In contrast, when imitation of the most profitable firm is more gradual and market differentiation is below a threshold, states with prices above the Nash equilibrium are also stable. Thus, while competitive evolutionary pressure in this imitation based model does result in the Nash equilibrium always being stable, other outcomes may be stable as well. Interestingly, the states that are stable under gradual imitation give the firms a higher profit than the stable states under immediate imitation.
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