How Culture May Change Assumptions in Antitrust Policy

Author: Thomas Cheng

In: Lianos, I & Sokol, DD (Eds.), The Global Limits of Competition Law, p. 205-220. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford Law Books, 2012.

This chapter asks whether economic concepts that underpin competition law doctrines are culture-specific. Most microeconomic and industrial organization theories have been developed in Western countries. It is possible that the validity of these concepts diminishes when economic actors behave differently across cultures. It notes that divergence across cultural norms means that firms and consumers may behave differently from country A to country B. The analysis focuses on two areas of competition law—cartels and vertical restraints. After explaining how some traditional assumptions about behavior in each setting may vary based upon culture, it suggests that cultural considerations may require fine-tuning of competition analysis and enforcement under some limited circumstances. It explains that cultural variations may undermine the feasibility of a one-size-fits-all approach to antitrust that some scholars and policy makers have embraced in recent years.

Keywords: competition law, microeconomic theories, cultural variations, antitrust policy, cartels, vertical restraints

View more here