Géarard Gaudet and Ngo Van Long

Vertical Integration, Foreclosure, and Profits in the Presence of Double Marginalization

Whether vertical integration between a downstream oligopolist and an upstream oligopolist is profitable for an integrated pair of firms is shown to depend on whether one means by this that profits increase no matter what other firms do, that all integrated firms are better off when all firms are integrated than when none are, or simply that no downstream-upstream pair of firms has an incentive to deviate from a situation where all firms are integrated. It is also shown to depend on the number of firms in each oligopoly and on the type of interaction that is assumed between firms that are integrated and firms that are not. In particular, it is shown that if no restriction is put on trade between integrated and nonintegrated firms, integrated firms may continue to purchase inputs from the nonintegrated upstream firms, with the goal of raising their downstream rivals’ costs. Furthermore, even though firms are identical, asymmetric equilibria, where integrated and nonintegrated firms coexist, may actually arise as an outcome of the integration game.