Oligopoly Dynamics: Understanding the Key Features of Limited Competition

Category: Finance, Macroeconomics
Last Updated: 30 Aug 2023
Pages: 2 Views: 59
Table of contents

A variety of market arrangements, with oligopoly predominating, regulate the intricate aspects of the world economy. An oligopoly, which is distinguished by a small number of companies controlling the market, is halfway between the enormous expansiveness of perfect competition and the exclusive domination of a monopoly. It provides a unique fusion of cooperative and competitive behaviors, reshaping sectors like telecommunications and airlines. This article explores the features of oligopolies and the complex dance of competition and collaboration that businesses often engage in.

Limited Number of Sellers

An oligopoly is characterized by the fact that a small number of firms control the majority of the market. Oligopolies are structures in which a small number of strong companies dominate the market, as opposed to monopolies or perfect competition, where there are a large number of participants. Due to this small quantity, the sector often experiences high levels of concentration:

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  • Interdependence: Due to the small number of dominating enterprises, any company's decisions have an immediate effect on its rivals. Firms constantly monitor their competitors' responses to pricing changes, new product launches, and marketing campaigns, which creates a strong dependency that influences strategic choices.
  • Entry Barriers: Oligopolies often develop as a result of high entry barriers. These might be technical, monetary, or even legal. Among the obstacles that keep new rivals out of the market are high entry prices, economies of scale, and brand loyalty.
  • Non-Price Competition: Due to the possibility of reciprocal losses in oligopolistic marketplaces, companies often steer clear of price wars. Instead, they use non-price competition methods, including product differentiation, branding, and advertising. These tactics are designed to attract customers who aren't merely interested in pricing.
  • Price Rigidity: The relative rigidity of prices is another defining characteristic of oligopolies. Because they worry about competitive backlash, businesses often hesitate to modify their rates. When one company lowers its pricing, others often do the same, resulting in lower sales for everyone. On the other hand, a price increase can cause a decline in market share.
  • Possibility of Collusion: Although it's not always possible, oligopolies' close-knit character may sometimes result in collusion. In order to determine pricing, production quotas, or other market tactics, firms may enter into both formal and informal agreements. Although it often puts the interests of consumers at risk, collaboration may stabilize the market.


Oligopolies provide an intriguing synthesis of rivalry and cooperation. The dynamics of a market system with few actors having substantial power vary greatly from those of other economic environments. Oligopolies are characterized by dependency and pricing rigidity, which show a delicate balance of power and strategy. Understanding these dynamics is more important as global industries develop, not only for the enterprises engaged but also for regulators and consumers navigating this environment of restricted competition.


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  4. G. J. Stigler (1964). An oligopoly theory. The Political Economy Jo

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Oligopoly Dynamics: Understanding the Key Features of Limited Competition. (2023, Aug 24). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/oligopoly-dynamics-understanding-the-key-features-of-limited-competition/

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