Economics For Business: Comparing Market Structures

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Question :


Question 1

Compare the market structures of Perfect Competition, Monopoly, Monopolistic Competition and Oligopoly under the following headings (about 250 words)

a.     number of firms in the market

b.     similarity of the products sold

c.     barriers to entry

Question 2

Explain the term “game theory” and state which market structure experiences it the most.

Use one example of how you practise it in your own life. (About 50 words)

Question 3

 Assume IPhone and Samsung and one or two others are major providers of phones and that have about 70% pf the market. Explain the term “kinked demand curve” by using these as an example.

 State which market structure it is found. (About 50 words)

Question 4

Explain the term “price discrimination” and give three (3) examples of how firms practice it. (About 50 words)

Question 5

State which market structure you think each of the following businesses belong to. Explain your choice. 

a.     Woolworth supermarket chain in your city (Melbourne/Sydney).

b.     A Coles supermarket in a small town in country Victoria or NSW.

c.     A small café in Melbourne/Sydney CBD.

d.     Yarra Tram in Melbourne or Sydney Trains in Sydney.

e.     Australia New Zealand Bank.

f.      Academies Australasia Polytechnic.

g.     A small store among many other similar stores that sell souvenirs such wallets, caps, tee-shirts, key chains souvenirs that are almost identical in your city’s Sunday market.

h.     Iphone and Samsung in the mobile phone industry.

Question 6

Diagram ADiagram B 

The above are diagrams of demand curves facing two firms.


 State which demand curve applies to the Monopolistic Competition firm and the other to the Oligopoly firm and explain why you think so (Hint: consider their price elasticities of demand)

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Answer :


Ans- Below is the comparison between Perfect Competition, Monopoly, Monopolistic Competition and Oligopoly market structures under the following headings- [A, Robinson. T, and Tucker I. [2015]]

Perfect CompetitionMonopolyMonopolistic CompetitionOligopoly
Number of firms in the marketLarge number of seller firms in the market, hence has no control over the market or the prices One or two seller firms who has full control over the market and pricesLarge number of firms, but less than perfect competition. 

Small number of firms, but all large firms. Market is dominated by these firms and they also decide the market prices.
Similarity of the products soldHomogeneous product, i.e. products sold by all the sellers are similar to each other except a few features, packaging or body of the productHomogeneous productDifferentiated products, i.e. products are close substitutes for each other, and seller firms compete with each other on non-price factorsHomogeneous products in case of a perfect oligopoly and heterogeneous products in case of imperfect oligopoly

Barriers to entryNo restrictions on the entry of firms into the industryHuge barriers on the entry of firms into the industry Very low or negligible barriers to entry of firms in the industry, i.e. as most of the firm are large in size, it is difficult for a new firm to enter and make its place in the marketHigh barriers to entry of firms in the industry, i.e. only few firms are allowed that too with government permission


Ans- Game theory is a concept where two or more strategic decision makers, who have a conflict of interests amongst them, take decisions or predict results on the basis of other person’s probable decision.

Oligopoly market structure experiences it the most because here market prices, supply and demand are all dependent on other, although each firm is an independent decision maker. [Paul Krugman, Robin Wells (2004)]

In real life, game theory is applicable when you make a move to ask a girl/guy out. The outcome depends on the other person’s answer to say yes or no but you analyze his/her likely behavior to make your decision of asking out or not.


Kinked Demand Curve Under Oligopoly

Ans- Smartphones market is an example of oligopoly market as majority of the market share is controlled by Iphone and Samsung. [Vanishka Ghosh- Economics discussion (2014)]

Firms in an oligopoly market doesn’t have a fixed demand curve as their demand is dependent its competitor’s price and supply. Also, price is not determined by the demand and supply forces, rather it is determined by the large controlling firms, hence the prices tend to be rigid for a long time.

In the given Fig.1, the area above the kink is highly price elastic and the area below the kink is price inelastic. Because of this change of elasticities, the demand curve takes a kinked shape.


Ans- Price discrimination is the strategy used by the seller in a monopoly market. As the firm is the only seller and has full control over the price, it charges different prices from different customers for the same product based on what is deemed to be the best price for that customer. 

Following are the ways how a monopolist practice it- [Tejvan Pettinger (March 6, 2017)]

  1. Loyalty pricing, i.e. charging different prices to loyal customers
  2. Quantity based pricing, e.g. electicity charges based on consumption
  3. Time based pricing, e.g. price of flight tickets



a. Woolworth supermarket chain in your city (Melbourne/Sydney) – Oligopoly, because it is one giant company and it is not impossible but is very difficult to enter the industry and compete with it. Price is also substantially controlled by the super-market.

b.     A Coles supermarket in a small town in country Victoria or NSW- Monopoly, because of no competition and familiarity amongst small towners, it can single handedly control the market and prices. In case of coexistence with an equally strong competitor like Woolsworth, maybe in a big city, it becomes an oligopoly.

c.     A small café in Melbourne/Sydney CBD – Monopolistic, because it is an industry where competitors compete on the variety of products and services offered and not on price basis. Price Differentiation is also possible. 

d.     Yarra Tram in Melbourne or Sydney Trains in Sydney – Monopoly, because it is the only service provider and entry is restriced by the government provided lease by the Government of Victoria

e.     Australia New Zealand Bank – Perfect Oligopoly, because majority market shares are held by top 3-4 banks including the Australia New zealand bank and the rates are mutually decided & fixed by all of them. It is immensely difficuly for a new bank to enter and compete with them.

f.      Academies Australasia Polytechnic- Monopolistic, because there are a lot of seller firms and all of them compete on the quality and type of services provided rather than the price.

g.     A small store among many other similar stores that sell souvenirs such wallets, caps, tee-shirts, key chains souvenirs that are almost identical in your city’s Sunday market – Perfect competition, because of free entry and exit of any number of firms, and all of them selling similar products. Also, price is determined by the demand and supply forces. Hence, sellers are the price-takers and not price-makers.

h.     Iphone and Samsung in the mobile phone industry – Imperfect Oligopoly, because majority of the shares are held by them and they compete on the basis of differentiated products. [Krugman Wells (2009)]


Ans-  Demand Curves

The first figure (Diagram A) depicts the demand curve of a firm in an oligopoly market whereas the secong figure (Diagram B) is a demand curve of a firm in a monopolistic market. This is because the price elasticity of a monopolistic market is more than that of an oligopoly. 

In a monopolistic market, firms can take independent decisions to increase or decrease the price without losing or gaining majority of the customers. This is because the basis of competition in an oligopoly is not price but product differentiation. Hence, the demand curve is more elastic. [Elmer G. Wiens (2008)]

Whereas, in an oligopoly market, the prices are determined by the large market players and prices tend to be inflexible upto a certain point for a considerablem amount of time. The firms are not independent price-makers and a change in price can make a substantial change in profits and market share of the firms. Hence, the demand curve is more inelastic. [Paul Krugman, Robin Wells (2004)]