Inductive Causation on Strategic Behavior: The Case of Retailer and Manufacturer Pricing



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Models of strategic behavior are usually too complex to conduct large scale analyses, and frequently rely on accurate descriptions of the strategic environment, or unrealistic assumptions which render empirical studies very sensitive to misspecification. This dissertation relates game-theoretic frameworks to models of causality inference and thus provides a reliable method to identify price leadership. Therefore, causal models can be used to study large sets of data without imposing strategic behavior a priori. A case study is provided by analyzing the supply chain relationship among Dominick's Finer Foods and its suppliers. Although our data required aggregation, this empirical analysis successfully determined causal patterns for 60 percent of our sample. Of these price leaderships, 70 percent elicit Manufacturer Stackelberg relationships which tend to be associated with manufacturers that hold big market shares, 25 percent elicit Retailer Stackelbergs which seem to be associated with the biggest retailer margin profits, and only 5 percent elicit a monopolistic retailer with vertical coordination. These results agree with observations made by other authors and the market structure of the 1990's. Moreover, the strategic relationship among the suppliers is also studied. Interestingly, the dominant firms tend to isolate themselves from the price leadership, whereas the second largest firms seem to become price leaders. Our studies agree with the market literature as well. In particular, we find price leadership in a firm which was identified as a low cost leader. Finally, we discovered that the private label does not lead any firm's price unless this firm is the provider of a generic brand.