The Morality of Cartel Activity

By Andreas Stephan (University of East Anglia)

This chapter examines the extent to which cartel activity is morally wrongful and the resultant implications for cartel law more generally. It argues that while the focus of morality lies mainly in the question of whether cartel behaviour should be treated as crime, it is actually important to the legitimacy of all cartel enforcement because it is punitive and not regulatory in nature. It also speaks to the extent to which individuals are willing to comply with cartel law and report it to an employer or competition authority. The chapter then goes on to ask the extent to which cartels are considered morally wrongful. It is argued that as a fluid concept, what determines morally offensive cartel conduct is various pull factors, that make it more likely cartel conduct will attract moral opprobrium, and push factors that have the opposite effect. These help us identify the types of cartel conduct that are most likely to be considered morally offensive, and the potential policy tools for strengthening the moral opprobrium associated with cartel behaviour more generally.

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