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A cartel is a formal agreement among firms in an oligopolistic industry. Cartel members may agree on such matters as prices, total industry output, market shares, allocation of customers, allocation of territories, bid-rigging, establishment of common sales agencies, and the division of profits or combination of these.

Cartel in this broad sense is synonymous with "explicit" forms of collusion. Cartels are formed for the mutual benefit of member firms. The theory of "cooperative" oligopoly provides the basis for analyzing the formation and the economic effects of cartels. Generally speaking, cartels or cartel behaviour attempts to emulate that of monopoly by restricting industry output, raising or fixing prices in order to earn higher profits.

Source Publication:
Glossary of Industrial Organisation Economics and Competition Law, compiled by R. S. Khemani and D. M. Shapiro, commissioned by the Directorate for Financial, Fiscal and Enterprise Affairs, OECD, 1993.

Cross References:
Agreement (to lessen or restrict competition)


Statistical Theme: Financial statistics

Created on Thursday, January 3, 2002

Last updated on Friday, March 15, 2002