The provision of large scale services to government or firms (in defense orinformation technology) involves competition for contracts that precedeprocurement decisions regarding capital equipment supplies and humancapital expertise in on-going legal and consulting services (Kamien, Liand Samet, 1989).
If customer switching costs are substantial, competition for thosecustomers takes place at a time well in advance of when consumption of the requisite services will be required.
Electricity and gas retailing where customers (both residential andindustrial) are sold forward contracts before supply agreements to obtainthe necessary stock or supplies are set (Stahl, 1988).More generally, it is quite conceivable that procurement contracts may be subject to hold-up and ex post renegotiation once customer contracts are in place. In this situation,common to analyses of vertical relationships in the incomplete contracts literature (Hart,1995), modeling procurement negotiations as occurring following the marketing of services to customers would be necessary to fully capture the lack of commitment powerinherent in some supply agreements.The purpose here is not to explore the drivers of contract timing but focus on itsimplications. To do this, I adopt a simple change to the standard vertical contractingmodel: instead of input supply terms being fixed prior to downstream competition, Iassume that the reverse occurs. That is, downstream firms first compete for orders(resolving their price and quantity in an oligopolistic equilibrium). Then those firmsapproach the upstream monopolist to negotiate over input procurement. This captures thenotion that downstream firms may be more easily able to commit to contracts withcustomers than be locked in to input supply contracts.It is demonstrated that this modeling change, while straightforward, has importantand surprising implications for the level of competition in downstream markets.
even in an environment of contractual flexibility regarding the nature of ex post procurement, oligopolistically competitive outcomes result in the industry
Indeed, McAfee and Schwartz (1994, p.220) conjectured that if sales were determined prior to inputnegotiations, a simple oligopolistically competitive outcome would not emerge. It is demonstrated here thatthis is not the case and a Cournot outcome is an equilibrium outcome.