Roger van den Bergh

Behavioral antitrust: not ready for the main stage

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: business objectives of the firm, antitrust law, monopolization, horizontal practices, vertical restraints.

Antitrust law is firmly grounded in rational choice theory. The behavioral antitrust literature introduces irrationality into the analysis of the reasons and effects of firms' behavior. Behavioral scholars claim that several antitrust issues may be better understood by taking account of heuristics and cognitive biases in the firms' decision making process. Generally, by arguing that welfare losses may be caused by irrational behavior of firms the behavioral antitrust literature tends towards more interventionism. This paper questions the view that irrationality of firms would be a better assumption for explaining and predicting market behavior. Moreover, the usefulness of a behavioral approach is restricted by the ambiguous results of the theoretical analysis. Rather than adopting an anti-Chicago profile, behavioral scholars should explore potential synergies with the mainstream Post-Chicago literature. Information economics, the theory of the firm and game theory have created scope for bounded rationality and information problems in the analysis of firms and markets. Behavioral antitrust may enrich but not replace mainstream antitrust economics. In the current state of things, behavioral antitrust does certainly not require a change of the competition rules or antitrust methodology. Behavioral antitrust is a side act and not (yet) ready for the main stage.

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