Empirical Essays in Industrial Organization: Application in Airline and Automobile Industries

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Virginia Tech

This dissertation consists of three essays in empirical industrial organization with applications in U.S. airline and automobile industries. Chapter 1 motivates the aim of this dissertation with a brief summary of the main goals and findings of the subsequent chapters.

The main focus of this dissertation is to higlight the changing environments in the U.S. airline and automobile industries in recent years and investigate their implications for the nature of industry competitiveness. Following the recession of 2000 and post 9/11 events, the U.S. airline industry has undergone major restructuring which has defined the way airlines compete today. Chapter 2 of this dissertation explores the impact of the presence of Low Cost Carriers (LCCs) on consumer welfare in this newly restructured market environment. Previous studies on LCC competition have not addressed the welfare issue and have only been limited to impact of LCC entry on average airfare. Departing from previous literature, this question is posed using a discrete choice model of demand for differentiated products. In chapter 3 we use a structural oligopoly model for differentiated products similar to chapter 2 to unveil the nature of conduct that exists in markets with endpoints which qualify as hubs of legacy carriers. In contrast to previous literature on airline hub market conduct, this chapter investigates the nature of conduct that exists in markets defined exclusively by network carrier hubs as a whole group incorporating product differentiation in the model framework. Finally chapter 4 uses the same methodological framework outlined in chapter 3 to explore the importance of frequent incidence of manufacturer incentives in shaping market conduct in the automobile industry. Unlike past literature on automobile market conduct, this is achieved using proprietary dealer level average transaction price data obtained from J.D. Power and Associates (JDPA) with a focus on the Big Three automakers. Specifically we use the widely successful Employee Discount Pricing (EDP) promotional program of 2005, the first of its kind, as a backdrop to identify changes in the nature of short run conduct among the Big Three that might be signalled by such promotional programs.

Airline, Competition, Product Differentiation, Automobile