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State antitrust enforcement in the US and implications for small business entry and relocation

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This article examines the impact of the important, yet little studied, state-level antitrust enforcement activity on entry and relocation behaviour by small US firms. Feinberg and Husted (2011) have shown that this enforcement, especially nonhorizontal cases, may be viewed by potential entrants as a negative aspect of the state business climate. However, they did not pursue a more disaggregate analysis of small firm entry behaviour; nor did they investigate different responses between manufacturing, wholesaling and retailing firms. Another related issue is the extent to which state cases filed in tandem with federal investigations have the same impact on establishment entry as do purely ‘independent’ cases. These considerations are dealt with in this article. The author uses annual state-level data from the Statistics of US Business to examine entry and relocation reactions to state antitrust enforcement by firms within three small-business categories: 1–19 employees; 20–99 employees; 100–499 employees. Generally speaking, the smallest retail and wholesale firms seem to favour vigorous antitrust activity, especially enforcement targeted against cartel behaviour by suppliers. The largest small-firm retailers and wholesalers (those with 100–499 employees) seem somewhat threatened by such activity, especially the more controversial nonhorizontal enforcement. However, it must be acknowledged that the effects on entry or relocation of small firms – both positive and negative – are quite small.

Keywords: L10; L40; antitrust; entry; small business; states

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: American University, Washington, DC, 20016-8029, USA

Publication date: March 3, 2014

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