Permission to Exist
NBER Working Paper No. 20512
We provide a new model that generates persistent performance differences amongst seemingly similar enterprises. Our model provides a mechanism whereby efficient incumbent rivals can give permission for an inefficient firm to exist in the presence of efficient entrants. We demonstrate that, in a repeated game, an efficient incumbent has a unilateral incentive to establish a relational contract that softens price competition to either strengthen the inefficient firm in a war of attrition that emerges post-entry or reduce the value to the inefficient firm of selling its position to entrants. The paper provides conditions under which that equilibrium exists and derives a number of empirical predictions as implications of the model. It is demonstrated that performance differences are likely to be associated with stability in the identity of firms in the market.
Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20512
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