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  • P-ISSN 1738-656X

한국개발연구. Vol. 12, No. 3, November 1990, pp. 153-172

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Strategic Antitrust Policy Promoting Mergers to Enhance Domestic Competitiveness (Written in Korean)


Author & Article History

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The present paper investigates the potential value of strategic antitrust policy in an oligopolistic international market. The market is characterized by a non-cooperative Cournot-Nash equilibrium and by asymmetry in costs among firms in the world market. The model is useful for two reasons. First, it is important in the context of policy-making to examine the conditions under which it may be beneficial to relax antitrust law to enhance competitiveness. Second, the explicit derivation of the level of cost-saving required for a gain in total domestic surplus provides an empirical rule for excluding industries that do not satisfy the requirements for a socially beneficial antitrust exemption. Results of the analysis include a criterion that tells how the cost-saving and concentration effects of a merger offset each other. The criterion is derived from fairly general assumptions on demand functions and is simple enough to be applied as a part of the merger guidelines. Another interesting policy implication of our analysis is that promoting mergers would not be a beneficial strategy in a net importing industry where cost-saving opportunities are thin. Cost-saving domestic mergers are more likely to increase national welfare in exporting industries. The best candidate industries for application of strategic antitrust policy are those with the following characteristics: (i) a large potential for efficiency enhancement; (ii) high market concentration at the world but not the domestic level; (iii) a high ratio of exports to imports. Recently, many policymakers and economists in Korea have also come to believe that the appropriate antitrust policy in an era of increased foreign competition may actually be to encourage rather than to prohibit domestic mergers. The Industry Development Act of 1986 and the proposed bill for Mergers and Conversions in the Financial Industry of 1990 reflect this changing perspective on antitrust policy. Antitrust laws may burden domestic firms in the sense that they have a more constrained strategy set. Expenditures to avoid antitrust attacks could also increase costs for domestic firms. But there is no clear evidence that the impact of antitrust policy is significant enough to harm the competitiveness of domestic firms. As a matter of fact, it is necessary for domestic financial institutions to become large in scale in this era of globalization. However, the absence of empirical evidence for efficiency enhancement from mergers suggests caution in the relaxation of antitrust standards.

JEL Code

L41, D43

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