As part of a merger investigation, antitrust authorities often solicit input from competitors and customers of merging parties, seeking their views on the proposed merger. The authorities may also contact other market participants, usually aiming to clarify “the conditions for competition in a given market or the role of the merged companies in that market.” This is often done through survey questionnaires. In the case of the EC, such questionnaires may be sent out during Phase I and Phase II investigations. The authorities rely on the responses to these surveys to inform their theories of harm, and to evaluate proposed commitments.
Cornerstone Research has extensive experience in reviewing questionnaires fielded by the EC in the context of various Phase I and Phase II investigations. We work with external academic experts who specialise in the design and evaluation of surveys, as well as our in-house consultants and experts who specialise in merger enforcement. Cornerstone Research also collaborates with third-party agencies to conduct surveys on behalf of merging parties in order to evaluate the theories of harm proposed by the EC or other authorities.
When reviewing a survey, Cornerstone Research conducts a rigorous evaluation of the sample, the administration and design of the questionnaires, the quality of the questions, and the reliability of the responses, including both short-form (i.e., multiple choice) and long-form (i.e., free text) responses. Through this process, we may identify various inaccuracies, which can undermine the reliability of the survey’s results. In past matters, Cornerstone Research has established that specific surveys used non-representative samples, asked leading or ambiguous questions, provided insufficient response options, or disclosed other information that can bias respondents.
Through work on multiple matters, Cornerstone Research has developed systematic, academically grounded, and effective processes to undertake rigorous analyses of questionnaires and responses under the tight timeframes dictated by the merger review process. In several matters, Cornerstone Research has established that the conclusions drawn by the authority are not well-supported by the responses to the surveys it has conducted.