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Please sign up to read full document. Oligopoly is a market structure where there are a few firms producing all or most of the market supply of a particular good or service and whose decisions about the industry’s output can affect competitors. Examples of oligopolistic structures are supermarket, banking industry and pharmaceutical industry. High barriers to entry that restrict new firms to enter the industry e.
Oligopolies do not compete on prices. Price wars tend to lead to lower profits, leaving a little change to market shares. However, Oligopolies firms tend to charge reasonably premium prices but they compete through advertising and other promotional means. Existing companies are safe from new companies entering the market because barriers to entry to the market are high. For example, if products are heavily promoted and producers have a number of existing successful brands, it will be very costly and difficult for new firms to establish their own new brand in an oligopoly market. Because there are few firms in an oligopoly industry, each firms output is a large share of the market.
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As a result, each firm’s pricing and output decisions have a substantial effect on the profitability of other firms. In addition, when making decisions relating to price or output, each firm has to take into consideration the likely reaction of rival firms. Because of this interdependence, oligopoly firms engage in strategic behaviour. Strategic behaviour means when the best outcome of a firm is determined by the actions of other firms.
Oligopolists are drawn in two different directions, either to compete with each other or to collude with each other. If they collude, they end up acting as monopoly and thereby maximising the industry’s profits. However they are often tempted to compete with each other inorder to gain a bigger share of the profit of the industry. There are two ways in which firms collude in oligopoly. This is an explicit or implicit agreement between existing firms to avoid or limit competition with one another.