Anti-competitive practices are business or government practices that prevent or reduce competition in a market. Antitrust laws ensure businesses do not engage in competitive practices that harm other, usually smaller, businesses or consumers. These laws are formed to promote healthy competition within a free market by limiting the abuse of monopoly power. Competition allows companies to compete in order for products and services to improve; promote innovation; and provide more choices for consumers. In order to obtain greater profits, some large enterprises take advantage of market power to hinder survival of new entrants. Anti-competitive behavior can undermine the efficiency and fairness of the market, leaving consumers with little choice to obtain a reasonable quality of service.

Anticompetitive behavior refers to actions taken by a business or organization to limit, restrict or eliminate competition in a market, usually in order to gain an unfair advantage or dominate the market. These practices are often considered illegal or unethical and can harm consumers, other businesses and the broader economy.

Anti-competitive behaviour is used by business and governments to lessen competition within the markets so that monopolies and dominant firms can generate supernormal profits and deter competitors from the market. Therefore, it is heavily regulated and punishable by law in cases where it substantially affects the market.

Anti-competitive practices are commonly only deemed illegal when the practice results in a substantial dampening in competition, hence why for a firm to be punished for any form of anti-competitive behaviour they generally need to be a monopoly or a dominant firm in a duopoly or oligopoly who has significant influence over the market.

Anti-competitive behaviour can be grouped into two classifications. Horizontal restraints regard anti-competitive behaviour that involves competitors at the same level of the supply chain. These practices include mergers, cartels, collusions, price-fixing, price discrimination and predatory pricing. On the other hand, the second category is vertical restraint which implements restraints against competitors due to anti-competitive practice between firms at different levels of the supply chain e.g. supplier-distributor relationships. These practices include exclusive dealing, refusal to deal/sell, resale price maintenance and more.


Also criticized are:

Horizontal mergers

Horizontal merger refers to improving efficiency by reducing consumer distortion of firm choice and price heterogeneity. When two companies with similar products or product characteristics merge horizontally, there is less competition. However, a net social benefit can be created, because when the two companies fight a continuous price war due to fierce competition, it will strongly distort the choices of consumers.[12] Horizontal mergers can also easily lead to a monopoly, reducing consumers' choices and indirectly harming consumers' interests.

Vertical mergers

The Chicago school of economics argues that vertical mergers, usually formed under anti-competitive intention, may be pro-competitive to eliminate double marginalisation.[13] A chain of monopolists under can cause prices that extract beyond consumer surplus as wholesalers mark up prices, retailers have the power to transfer this cost price onto the retail price.


"I Like a Little Competition"—J. P. Morgan by Art Young. Cartoon relating to the answer J. P. Morgan gave when asked whether he disliked competition at the Pujo Committee.[14]

Monopolies and oligopolies are often accused of, and sometimes found guilty of, anti-competitive practices. Anti-competitive incentives can be especially prominent when a corporation's majority shareholders own similarly sized stakes in the company's industry competitors.[15] For this reason, company mergers are often examined closely by government regulators to avoid reducing competition in an industry. Although anti-competitive practices often enrich those who practice them, they are generally believed to have a negative effect on the economy as a whole, and to disadvantage competing firms and consumers who are not able to avoid their effects, generating a significant social cost. For these reasons, most countries have competition laws to prevent anti-competitive practices, and government regulators to aid the enforcement of these laws.

The argument that anti-competitive practices have a negative effect on the economy arises from the belief that a freely functioning efficient market economy, composed of many market participants each of which has limited market power, will not permit monopoly profits to be earned...and consequently prices to consumers will be lower, and if anything there will be a wider range of products supplied.

A key distinguishing factor that separates anti-competitive behaviour from innovative marketing and fair competition is that most of the aforementioned types of anti-competitive behaviour are only deemed unlawful if the firm that is committing the behaviour is a dominant firm within the market to the extent where their action will have a significant influence on market behaviour. If the firm engages in such behaviour has a position of substantial market share, so much so that they are able to generate supernormal profits and force smaller companies out of the industry then it is most likely deemed unlawful.

Opponents of robber barons believe that the realities of the marketplace are sometimes more complex than this or similar theories of competition would suggest. For example, oligopolistic firms may achieve economies of scale that would elude smaller firms. Again, very large firms, whether quasi-monopolies or oligopolies, may achieve levels of sophistication e.g. in business process and/or planning (that benefit end consumers) and that smaller firms would not easily attain. There are undoubtedly industries (e.g. airlines and pharmaceuticals) in which the levels of investment are so high that only extremely large firms that may be quasi-monopolies in some areas of their businesses can survive.

Many governments regard these market niches as natural monopolies, and believe that the inability to allow full competition is balanced by government regulation. However, the companies in these niches tend to believe that they should avoid regulation, as they are entitled to their monopoly position by fiat. In some cases, anti-competitive behavior can be difficult to distinguish from competition. For instance, a distinction must be made between product bundling, which is a legal market strategy, and product tying, which violates antitrust law. Some advocates of laissez-faire capitalism (such as Monetarists, some Neoclassical economists, and the heterodox economists of the Austrian school) reject the term, seeing all "anti-competitive behavior" as forms of competition that benefit consumers.

Reduce competition: Anticompetitive practices lead to less competition in the marketplace, which leads to limited choice for consumers, higher prices, and less innovation. When firms engage in anticompetitive practices that eliminate or reduce competitors, such as collusion, abuse of market power, or mergers and acquisitions, it may result in reduced competition and discourage new competitors from entering the market. This can lead to higher prices, lower product or service quality and less incentive to innovate.

Distorted market dynamics: Anticompetitive behaviour distorts market dynamics and undermines the level playing field for all market participants. When some companies engage in unfair or anti-competitive practices, it can create an uneven playing field that puts small businesses or new entrants at a disadvantage and leads to market distortions, reduced competition and potentially harmful consequences for consumers and the economy.

To mitigate the negative effects of anti-competitive behaviour, effective competition laws and regulatory mechanisms are needed to promote fair competition, protect consumer interests and maintain a level playing field for all market participants. Enforcement of competition law, promotion of competition and fostering a culture of competition in the business environment help to ensure that markets are competitive, innovative and beneficial to consumers and the economy as a whole.

Common actions

Unfair competition includes a number of areas of law involving acts by one competitor or group of competitors which harm another in the field, and which may give rise to criminal offenses and civil causes of action. The most common actions falling under the banner of unfair competition include:

Various unfair business practices such as fraud, misrepresentation, and unconscionable contracts may be considered unfair competition, if they give one competitor an advantage over others. In the European Union, each member state must regulate unfair business practices in accordance with the principles laid down in the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, subject to transitional periods.

In different market systems

Based on research from Long in 2018,[full citation needed] anti-competitive practices are not only an industry regulation behavior, but also a modern industry characteristic for stakeholders to compete in within an fair market system. Meanwhile, the research results also significantly involved the economic theories to predict the relevant encouragement. This article explained the relevant variables in determining the extent of anti-competitive markets too. In perfectly competitive markets, anti-competitive practices are not necessary, since each business already have full information on their competitors pricing, strategy and major actions. However, in the monopolist market system, anti-competitive practices are a useful method to reduce the manipulation of business giants and potential colluding actions. Furthermore, the research emphasized the market conduct of state monopolies is no different from that of other firms and market power serves as the motivation for anti-competitive behaviour of firms.

Effectiveness for national stabilization

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Anti-competitive practices are also a useful approach to sustain a stabilized economic development and national welfare. With the implementation of anti-competitive practices, it will effectively remove the market inefficiencies and eliminate the dead weight loss from an economic viewpoint. As firms engage in fair competition, they act within government regulations and laws. There is sufficient evidence to conclude that anti-competitive practices can dramatically reduce the phenomenon of black market, hence improving the investment incentives on aggregate demands. In general, with the effective implementation of anti-competitive practices, the whole economy will expand into a further prosperity with less crowding out effects.

See also


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  3. ^ "Exclusive Dealing". Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. ACCC. 9 January 2013. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
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  12. ^ Ralph M, Braid (2017). "Efficiency-enhancing horizontal mergers in spatial competition". Papers in Regional Science. 96 (4): 881–895. Bibcode:2017PRegS..96..881B. doi:10.1111/pirs.12228.
  13. ^ "Antitrust Regulators Release New Vertical Merger Guidelines". CRS Legal Sidebar: 1–3. 21 July 2020.
  14. ^ Michael Burgan (2007). J. Pierpont Morgan: Industrialist and Financier. Capstone. p. 93. ISBN 9780756519872.
  15. ^ Condon, Madison (2020-03-01). "Externalities and the Common Owner". Washington Law Review. 95 (1): 1.