This topic addresses the social impacts associated with anti-competitive violations. It covers but is not limited to, practices like forming illegal monopolies, abusing dominant positions, colluding, forming price-fixing cartels, bid-rigging, and illegally protecting patents and intellectual property (IP).
These practices might result (outcomes and impacts) in one or more of the following: price hikes, restricted innovation, or lower product and service quality, among others.
The introduction should provide the reader with the necessary background on the social impacts of anti-competitive behaviors.
What are the impacts of restricting competition? How does this harm customers? How does this affect society at large?
The core of the analysis should disclose the anti-competitive practices, this should be substantiated with evidence, the outcome from such practices, and an assessment of the wider impact.
Biotechnology & Pharmaceuticals
What anti-competitive practices the company engaged in, such as Pay-to-Delay schemes, kickback schemes, and others.
Describe and quantify the outcome, such as limiting consumer choice, unaffordability, hindering innovation, and economic growth.
Describe and quantify the impact. This can be in terms of lowering access to medicines, increasing financial burdens for customers, degrading health, and presenting a societal burden regarding issues with healthcare.
Avoiding allegations and accusations by disclosing a clear ruling, and describing the anti-competitive practices: Reckitt Benckiser is a UK-based company that produces health, hygiene, and home products with 568 Mn customers and a market capitalization of $55.6 Bn. In 2019, Reckitt agreed to pay $50 Mn to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for using unethical product hopping to ensure the monopoly of its drug called Suboxone between 2013 to 2019.
Describing the scale, the outcome in terms of economic costs, and its wider impact on the country's healthcare system: Through deploying product hopping for Suboxone, Reckitt overcharged 51,875 people. The fine amount of $60Mn (including the $10Mn fine of Indivior) was distributed to the affected customers with each receiving an avg. of $1,139 to compensate for the extra customer financial cost9. Reckitt has put an additional burden of $403.2 Mn (8.57% of the burden caused by top 5 US Pharma) on US healthcare through product hopping.
Food Retailers & Distributors:
What anti-competitive practices did the company engage in
Describe and quantify the outcome, such as restricting competition and innovation, abusing its position with small retailers and manufacturers, and others.
Describe and quantify the impact, in terms of job destruction, reduction of consumer choice, unaffordability, and others.
Avoiding allegations and accusations by disclosing a clear ruling, establishing a scale, and describing the anti-competitive practices: Biedronka came into the limelight in 2020 when Poland’s anti-monopoly watchdog (UOKiK) fined Jeronimo Martins Polska $197.94 Mn for unfairly reaping profits at the cost of its suppliers. Biedronka was fined approximately 45.39% of Europe’s total fines for anti-competitive related activities in 2020.
Describing the scale, the outcome in terms of economic costs, and its wider impact on the country's healthcare system: The practices affected over 200 companies, most of which were fruit and vegetable suppliers. With these malpractices in place, Jeronimo Martins Polska earned more than $158 Mn from the suppliers in three years (2018-20).
*Note: to provide added value and show the extent of the scale, it would be good to include how the companies were affected, if people lost their jobs, etc.
What anti-competitive practices did the company engage in
Describe and quantify the outcome, such as monopolisation, hindering innovation, emptying out city centers, and others.
Describe and quantify the impact, in terms of restricted diversity of information and opinions, increased prices, poor governance, and other political impacts
Establishing a scale, and describing the anti-competitive practices: Alibaba’s e-commerce platform holds 55.9% of the market share in China. Since 2015, the company had been abusing its dominant position in the market to prevent its merchants from using other online e-commerce platforms.
Describing the scale, the outcome in terms of economic costs, and its wider impact on the country's healthcare system: Abusing its dominant market position, Alibaba used platform rules, algorithms, data, platform forces, and other means to ensure merchants were complying with the exclusivity contracts from 2015-2021, effectively restricting competition. Five major consumer brands in the US denounced traffic, hurting their sales, and refused to sign an exclusive contract with Alibaba.
*Note: to provide added value and show the extent of the scale, it would be good to include how monopolisation of e-commerce platforms has emptied out city centers, lowering well-being through social isolation, and others,
Please keep in mind that there should be clear rulings and sufficient evidence to support the data presented on the note to avoid defamation. If you want to include a court ruling, make sure the anti-competitive practice took place at most 3 years ago. If the practice took place more than 3 years ago, the lawsuits can be mentioned if the company has not changed its practices or is facing a similar accusation, thus showing a poor track record, and relevant impact.
To know more about avoiding allegations and accusations, please read this article.
Lawsuits and clear rulings, although necessary to avoid defamation, are not and do not imply there is a significant impact on society. Go beyond the fines imposed on a company and measure the impact of the behavior on society.
Sometimes new outlets summarize court rulings leaving out particularly valuable impact data. You might retrieve this information from the actual lawsuit filings. If the case occurred in the US, this source might be of use: https://www.sec.gov/litigation/litreleases.htm
Quantifying the Impact
Quantifying the impact of the anti-competitive practice might not be straightforward in every case. To cover the related impacts more effectively, include quantitative data that helps the reader understand the depth, breadth, and persistence of the practice.
To show the scale and extent of the impact, look at
- market share increments during the pertinent time period (substantial growth over two-three years),
- price hikes,
- elimination of competitors,
- the increasing restriction of the market,
- the percentage of revenues derived from the malpractice and the rollout of new products/services (stagnation in offerings)
- the number of stores closed down due to monopolistic competition
To describe the scale of the impact, taking into account:
1/ The breadth of the impact
Is the impact local, national, or global?
How many people are concerned? Thousands? Millions? Billions?
2/ The depth of the impact
Is the life of people concerned deeply affected, or does the issue just marginally impact them?
Are the changes brought by the issue profoundly changing society or the planet?
3/ The persistence of the impact
In your analysis, make sure you add value to your readers and go beyond the company’s CSR report by not merely reporting data from the company’s report but going the extra mile of providing additional metrics, studies, and sources to make your analysis robust and the impact value and scale are clear.