Working paper 03/066

Please Hold me Up: Why Firms Grant Exclusive Dealing Contracts (PDF, file 444 KB) (PDF, 445kB)

David de Meza and Marianno Selvaggi

Why do irreplaceable firms with a choice of suppliers or customers deliberately expose themselves to the threat of hold up by contracting ex ante to deal with only one of them? Our explanation revolves around the multiple equilibria intrinsic to situations of unverifiable investment and many traders. Exclusive dealing eliminates inefficient equilibria in which too many firms invest too little. The enhanced ex post bargaining power of the chosen firm is beneficial for incentives whilst the distributional impact is more than offset in the ex ante negotiations over which this firm obtains the access privilege.

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