NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Entry and Predation: British Shipping Cartels 1879-1929

Fiona Scott Morton

NBER Working Paper No. 5663
Issued in July 1996
NBER Program(s):   IO

I examine the outcomes of cases of entry by merchant shipping lines into established markets around the turn of the century. These established markets are completely dominated by an incumbent cartel composed of several member shipping lines. The cartel makes the decision whether or not to begin a price war against the entrant; some entrants are formally admitted to the cartel without any conflict. I use characteristics of the entrant to predict whether or not the entrant will encounter a price war conditional on entering. I find that weaker entrants are fought, where weaker means less financial resources, experience, size, or poor trade conditions. The empirical results provide support for the long purse theory of predation. I discuss qualitative evidence such as predatory intent expressed in correspondence between cartel members which supports the empirical results. The results are also found to be robust to misclassification of the dependent variable which is a particular concern when dealing with historical data.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w5663

Published: Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, Vol. 6, no. 1 (1997).

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