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Intra-Industry Trade with Bertrand and Cournot Oligopoly: The Role of Endogenous Horizontal Product Differentiation

James A. Brander, Barbara J. Spencer

NBER Working Paper No. 21008
Issued in March 2015
NBER Program(s):International Trade and Investment

This paper investigates the effect of endogenous horizontal product differentiation on trade patterns and the gains from trade under Bertrand and Cournot oligopoly. Firms differentiate their products to mitigate competition, but only if the investment required is not too high. Investment in product differentiation takes place in a much wider range of cases and results in a greater difference between products under Bertrand than Cournot competition. In our model, trade in homogeneous products never takes place under Bertrand competition: Bertrand firms export only if they differentiate their products. Cournot firms may trade in either homogeneous or differentiated products. If there is trade, consumers tend to be better off with Bertrand than Cournot competition due to greater product differentiation and more aggressive pricing, but higher levels of investment can raise Bertrand profit above Cournot profit and also above the monopoly profit at autarky when investment costs are sufficiently low.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21008

Published: Brander, James A. & Spencer, Barbara J., 2015. "Intra-industry trade with Bertrand and Cournot oligopoly: The role of endogenous horizontal product differentiation," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 157-165. citation courtesy of

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