• 0.10 Lawrence Stenhouse Building

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Shrinkflation - masking price increases by reducing product size

Personal profile


Paul Dobson is Interim Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Social Sciences Faculty and Professor of Business Strategy and Public Policy at the University of East Anglia (UEA). He has three degrees, including MSc and PhD in economics from the University of London, and held academic posts previously at Loughborough University (1998-2010), the University of Nottingham (1990-98), and the University of St Andrews (1988-9).

Paul joined UEA in July 2010 to serve two consecutive 5-year terms as Head of Norwich Business School, completing his 10 years in the role at the end of July 2020. During this period, he oversaw the major expansion of the School in doubling its courses, staffing and income. Under his leadership, the School achieved considerable success in national and international rankings underpinned by research and teaching excellence and a commitment to providing students with a truly outstanding learning experience.

He took up the role of Interim Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Social Sciences Faculty in August 2022 with responsibility for the Faculty's seven academic Schools encompassing 6,000 students and 400 academic staff and to serve as a member of the University's Executive Team.

As an academic expert, Paul is recognised as a leading international authority on competition and consumer policy specialising in food supply, food retailing, and public health.  He has written extensively on these matters, advised numerous national and international organisations, and provided regular commentary for a wide range of media (including TV, radio, and news/trade press). 

His publications include books on strategic management and competition analysis while his journal papers examine a range of practices related to food and drinks pricing plus broader pricing practices and contractual relations that affect competition and consumer welfare across different product and service markets, together with policy and legal analysis.

Paul’s current research interests focus on business strategy and public policy, following up two ESRC-funded projects on the impact of retail pricing on overeating and pricing dynamics in UK food retailing, an MRC-funded project examining alcohol pricing, and an EU H2020 project on energy storage.

Professor Dobson’s extensive advisory experience includes advising a wide range of authorities and international organisations (including European Parliament, UK Parliament, European Commission, OECD, UNCTAD and the UK, Swiss, Hungarian and Serbian competition authorities). He has also advised numerous industry associations and major corporations on business and public policy and acted as an expert witness in competition and commercial law cases. His work spans a wide range of industries including retailing, food supply, fast-moving consumer goods, telecommunications, financial services, brewing, property selling, printed media and books, with advice covering regulatory policy, mergers, strategic alliances, market investigations, vertical relations, and cooperative agreements. 

Paul is a member of the Centre for Competition Policy at UEA and serves on the advisory board of the American Antitrust Institute, where in 2004 he became its first non-American board member.  He is an Executive Group member of the Norwich Institute for Healthy Ageing (NIHA). He has acted as a consultant adviser to the ESRC and is a member of the ESRC Peer Review College as well as being a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA).  In addition, Paul has served UEA as Social Sciences Faculty Associate Dean for Enterprise (2011-15), Board Member of Adapt Commercial Limited (2011-14), and member of the University’s Senate (2016-19, 2022-present).


Areas of Expertise

Six principle areas of research expertise:

  • Business strategy (competition analysis; supply chain relations; collaborative arrangements; performance measures; business system competition)
  • Public health policy (alcohol policy; childhood obesity policy; pricing and promotion regulation)
  • Food marketing strategy (pricing policies; retail branding; retail micro-marketing; product-range decisions)
  • Competition law (vertical restraints; mergers; retail buyer power; price discrimination; predatory behaviour; portfolio power; horizontal agreements)
  • Economic theory (oligopoly theory; supplier-retailer bargaining; union-employer bargaining)
  • Industry analysis (retailing; wholesaling; fast-moving consumer goods; brewing; newspaper and magazine distribution; books; telecommunications; property selling)


Key Research Interests


“Technology Innovation for the Local Scale, Optimum Integration of Battery Energy Storage”, EU Horizon 2020, €592,000, 2015/9 (Co-I).

"Alcohol policy modelling and evaluation", Medical Research Council, £1,100,000, 2010/3 (Co-I).

"The impact of retail pricing on overeating and food waste", Economic and Social Research Council, £100,000, 2009/11 (PI).

"Price dynamics in food retailing in Great Britain", Economic and Social Research Council, £197,000, 2009/11 (Co-I).

"Buyer power in food retailing", OECD, £1,500, 2003 (PI).

"Buyer power in European food retailing", European Commission, €86,400, 1997/9 (PI).

"Welfare consequences of buyer power", Office of Fair Trading, £7,500, 1998 (PI).

"Vertical restraints and economic efficiency", OECD, £2,000, 1997 (PI).

"Vertical restraints and competition policy", £5,000, Office of Fair Trading, 1996 (PI).

"Net Book Agreement and the British book trade", Office of Fair Trading, £4,000, 1996 (PI).

"Abandoned mergers and collusion", Office of Fair Trading, £17,500, 1992/3 (Co-I).



1.  Books

Strategic Management: Issues and Cases, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004 (with K. Starkey and J. Richards).

Buyer Power and Competition in European Food Retailing, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2002 (with R. Clarke, S. Davies and M. Waterson).

Blauwdruk voor Strategisch Management, Baarn: Uitgeverij H. Nelissen, 1995 (Dutch version of The Strategic Management Blueprint).

The Strategic Management Blueprint, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1993 (with K. Starkey).

Business Strategic Management: A Self Study Work Book, Lincoln: Agricola, 1992 (with K. Starkey).

2.  Journal Papers

"Lockdown Drinking: The Sobering Effect of Price Controls in a Pandemic," Economic Inquiry, accepted for publication, April 2024 (with F.A.S. Bokhari, R. Chakraborty, M. Morciano).

"Banning volume discounts to curb excessive consumption: a cautionary tale", European Economic Review, Vol. 156, Art. 104480, July 2023 (with F.A.S. Bokhari, M. Morciano, M. Suhrcke).

"Are Food Price Promotions Predictable? The Hazard Function of Supermarket Discounts", Journal of Agricultural Economics, Vol. 73 (1), pp. 64-85, February 2022 (with H. Lan, T. Lloyd, W. Morgan).

"Identifying Price-Leadership Structures in Oligopoly", Oxford Economic Papers, Vol. 73 (1), pp. 350-370, January 2021 (with H-S. Kim and H. Lan).

“Strategic Incentives for Complementary Producers to Innovate for Efficiency and Support Sustainability”, International Journal of Production Economics, Vol. 219, pp. 431-439, January 2020 (with R. Chakraborty).

"Healthy competition to support healthy eating? An investigation of fruit and vegetable pricing in UK supermarkets", Journal of Agricultural Economics, Vol. 68 (3), pp. 881-900, September 2017 (with H. Lan). (Winner of the Agricultural Economics Society Essay Prize 2016/7).

“Containing Big Soda: Countering Inducements to Buy Large-Size Sugary Drinks”, Journal of Business Research, Vol. 75, pp. 185-191, June 2017 (with R. Chakraborty and J.S. Seaton).

“Pricing in Inflationary Times: The Penny Drops”, Journal of Monetary Economics, Vol. 76, pp. 71-86, November 2015 (with R. Chakraborty, J.S. Seaton and M. Waterson).

“Assessing Brand and Private Label Competition”, European Competition Law Review, Vol. 36 (2), pp. 76-81, February 2015 (with R. Chakraborty).

“Alcohol tax pass-through across the product and price range: Do retailers treat cheap alcohol differently?” Addiction, Vol. 109 (12), pp. 1994-2002, December 2014 (with A.K Ally inter alia)

“The Impact of Mergers on Fares Structure: Evidence from European Low-Cost Airlines”, Economic Inquiry, Vol. 51 (2), pp. 1196-1217, April 2013 (with C.A. Piga).

"Fee or Free? How Much to Add on for Add-ons?" Marketing Letters, Vol. 22 (1), pp. 65-78, 2011 (with G. Fruchter and E. Gerstner). (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11002-010-9112-3)

"For a Few Cents More: Why Supersize Unhealthy Food?" Marketing Science, Vol. 29 (4). pp. 770-778, July-August 2010, ISSN 0732-2399 (with E. Gerstner)

"Split Opinion: The Office of Fair Trading Opinion on Newspaper and Magazine Distribution", Competition Law Journal, Vol. 9 (2), pp. 262-274, 2010.

"Buyer Power in the U.K. Groceries Market", Antitrust Bulletin, Vol. 53 (2), pp. 333-368, Summer 2008 (with R. Chakraborty).

"The Waterbed Effect: Where Buying and Selling Power Come Together", Wisconsin Law Review, Vol. 2008 (2), pp. 331-357, Spring 2008 (with R. Inderst).

"The Competition Effects of Industry-wide Vertical Price Fixing in Bilateral Oligopoly", International Journal of Industrial Organization, Vol. 25, pp 935-962, October 2007 (with M. Waterson).

"Differential Buyer Power and the Waterbed Effect: Do Strong Buyers Benefit or Harm Consumers?"  European Competition Law Review, Vol. 28 (7), pp. 393-400, July 2007 (with R. Inderst)

"Competing, Countervailing and Coalescing Forces: The Economics of Intra- and Inter- Business System Competition", Antitrust Bulletin, Vol. 51 (1), pp 175-193, Spring 2006.

"Retailer Performance Indicators in the Nation of Shopkeepers", International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research, Vol. 15 (3), pp. 319-327, July 2005.

"Chain-Store Pricing Across Local Markets", Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, Vol. 14 (1), pp 93-119, Winter 2005 (with M. Waterson).

"Exploiting Buyer Power: Lessons from the British Grocery Trade", Antitrust Law Journal, Vol. 72 (2), pp. 529-562, Winter 2005.

"Competition and Collaboration in European Grocery Retailing", European Retail Digest, Issue 39, pp.12-21, Autumn 2003.

"The Patterns and Implications of Increasing Concentration in European Food Retailing", Journal of Agricultural Economics, Vol. 54 (1), pp. 111-126, March 2003 (with M. Waterson and S. Davies).

"The Importance of Conduct in the Economic Analysis of Mergers: The Interbrew Saga", European Competition Law Review, Vol. 23 (8), pp 386-391, August 2002 (with L. Coppi).

"Buyer Power and its Impact on Competition in the Food Distribution Sector of the European Union", Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Vol. 1 (3), pp. 247-281, 2001 (with R. Clarke, S. Davies, and M. Waterson).

"Competition and Mergers in Consumer Goods Industries: The Case of Pet Foods", European Competition Law Review, Vol. 22 (10), pp. 443-457, November 2001.

"Retailer Power: Recent Developments and Policy Implications", Economic Policy: A European Forum, Vol. 28, pp. 135-164, April 1999 (with M. Waterson).

"Countervailing Power and Consumer Prices", Economic Journal, Vol. 107, pp. 418-430, March 1997 (with M. Waterson).

"Union-Firm Interaction and the Right to Manage", Bulletin of Economic Research, Vol. 49, pp. 213-229, July 1997.

"Exclusive Trading Contracts in Successive Differentiated Duopoly", Southern Economic Journal, Vol. 63, pp. 361-377, October 1996 (with M. Waterson).

"Product Range and Interfirm Competition", Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, Vol. 5, pp. 317-341, Fall 1996 (with M. Waterson).

"Multifirm Unions and the Incentive to Adopt Pattern Bargaining in Oligopoly", European Economic Review, Vol. 38, pp. 87-100, January 1994.

"Mutually Related Firms and the "Rationality" of Producing Nothing", Managerial and Decision Economics, Vol. 13, pp. 485-491, 1992.

"The Competitive Advantage of Nations: Review", Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 29 (2), pp. 253-255, March 2002 (with K. Starkey).

"How Well Does Privatisation Achieve Government Objectives?  The Case of Bus Buy-Outs", International Journal of Transport Economics, Vol. 19 (3), pp. 259-285, 1992 (with M. Wright, S. Thompson and K. Robbie).

"On the Possibility of Price Wars When Firms Use a "Tit-for-Tat" Strategy", Economics Letters, Vol. 32, pp. 115-119, 1990 (with C.D. Sinclair).

3. Contributions to Edited Volumes

“Market Consolidation and Pricing Developments in Grocery Retailing: A Case Study”, in Analysis of Competition Policy and Sectoral Regulation, Martin Pietz and Yossi Spiegel (ed.), Now Publishers, 2014, pp. 3-29 (with R. Chakraborty, J.S. Seaton and M. Waterson) (http://www.worldscientific.com/doi/suppl/10.1142/9228/suppl_file/9228_chap01.pdf)

“The Competition Effects of Lookalike Private Label Products”, in National Brands and Private Labels in Retailing (First International Symposium NB&PL, Barcelona, June 2014), J.C. Gázquez-Abad, F.J. Martínez-López, I. Esteban-Millat, J.A. Mondéjar-Jiménez, Springer Proceedings in Business and Economics, Heidelberg, June 2014, pp. 17-26 (with Li Zhou).

"Relationship between Buyer and Seller Power in Retailing: UK Supermarkets (2000)", in Cases in European Competition Policy: The Economic Analysis, B. Lyons (ed), Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, August 2009.

Private Labels and Branded Goods: Consumers' ‘Horrors' and ‘Heroes', in Private Labels, Brands and Competition Policy: The Changing Landscape of Retail Competition, A. Ezrachi and U. Bernitz (ed.), Oxford University Press: Oxford, February 2009 (with R. Chakraborty).

"Buyer-Driven Vertical Restraints", in The Pros and Cons of Vertical Restraints, Konkurrensverket (ed), Swedish Competition Authority: Stockholm, November 2008.

"Buyer-Led Vertical Restraints", in Issues in Competition Law and Policy, W.D. Collins (ed), American Bar Association, ABA Publishing: Chicago, September 2008.

"Vertical Restraints Policy in the UK and EC" in New Developments in UK and EC Competition Policy, R. Clarke and E. Morgan (eds), Edward Elgar: Cheltenham, 2006, pp. 142-168.

"Buyer-Supplier Bargaining and Intra-Industry Competition", in Market Evolution: Competition and Cooperation, A. van Witteloostuijn (ed), Kluwer Press: Dordrecht, 1995, pp 183-196.

4. Departmental Discussion Papers

"Banning Volume Discounts to Curb Excessive Consumption: A Cautionary Tale", CCP Working Paper 22-04, Centre for Competition Policy at UEA, February 2022 (with F. Bokhari, M. Morciano, and M. Suhrcke).


“How Do National Brands And Store Brands Compete?” CCP Working Paper 14-7, Centre for Competition Policy at UEA, August 2014 (with R. Chakraborty). (http://competitionpolicy.ac.uk/documents/8158338/8199490/CCP+Working+Paper+14-7.pdf/a4e5dc73-b74e-452c-bcb7-fc80020620bd).

"Pricing in inflationary times: the penny drops", The Warwick Economics Research Working Papers (TWERPS) 975, December 2011 (R. Chakraborty, S. Seaton and M. Waterson). (http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/research/workingpapers/2011/twerp_975.pdf)

"Mergers and Business Model Assimilation: Evidence from Low-Cost Airlines Takeovers," Discussion Paper Series 2009/2, Department of Economics, Loughborough University, February 2009 (with C.A. Piga).

"Chain-Store Competition: Customized vs. Uniform Pricing", The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 840, February 2008.

"Vertical Restraints Policy Reform in the European Union and United Kingdom", Loughborough University Business School Research Series, No. 2005:  2, May 2005.

"Chain-Store Pricing for Strategic Accommodation", University of Warwick Working Paper, No. 677, April 2003 (with M. Waterson).

"Retailer Buyer Power in European Markets: Lessons from Grocery Supply", Loughborough University Business School Research Series, No. 2002: 1, June 2002.

"The Competition Effects of Look-Alike Products", University of Nottingham Business School Discussion Paper, No. 1998:VI, 1998.

"The Economic Welfare Implications of Own Label Goods", University of Nottingham Business School Discussion Paper, No. 1998:IV, 1998.

"Assessing (Vertical) Leverage Issues in Telecom Debates: Nirvana Economics Anew'', Centre for Research on Telecommunications Policy Research Paper, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, No. CRTP-43, October 1997 (M.W. Klass and D.J. Teece).

"The Public Policy Implications of Increasing Retailer Power", Discussion Paper 1996.IV, School of Management & Finance, University of Nottingham, 1996 (with M. Waterson).

"The Effects of Exclusive Purchasing on Interbrand and Intrabrand Rivalry", Warwick Economics Working Paper, University of Warwick, No. 94-15, 1994 (with M. Waterson).

"Contract Renewal and the Value of Incumbency in Supplier Bidding Competition", Discussion Paper 1993.X, School of Management & Finance, University of Nottingham, 1993 (with R. Mudambi).

"A Theory of Bilateral Oligopoly", Working Paper No. 88/3, Department of Management, University of St Andrews.

5. Short Articles and Essays

"Why the Government needs to rethink its HFSS multibuys ban", The Grocer, 9 June 2023 (with F. Bokhari) (https://www.thegrocer.co.uk/hfss/why-the-government-needs-to-rethink-its-hfss-multibuys-ban/680020.article).

"Why the UK has such cheap food", BBC News, 1 October 2018 (https://www/bbc.co.uk/news/business-45559594) (with R. Chakraborty).

"Retail Micro-Marketing: A Cocktail for Discrimination", The Grocer, 3 February 2007.

"Voices from the Supermarket Shelves – The Language of Competition", British Brands, Issue No.18, Autumn 2003.

"Competition and Mergers in Consumer Goods Industries", CRA Competition Policy Discussion Papers 1, November 2001. (Translated as "Concentrations et concurrence dans les industries de biens de consommation courante", CRA Articles sur la Politique de al Concurrence 1, Decembre 2001).

"EC Policy on Vertical Restraints", Competition & Regulation Bulletin, No. 10, London Economics, November 1999.

"The Competition Effects of Look-Alike Products", British Brands, Issue No.7, Autumn 1998.

6. Official Reports (for government authorities and international bodies)

Retail Structure and Competition Assessment with Application to Latin America and the Caribbean: Background paper by the OECD Secretariat, Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs, Competition Committee, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), DAF/COMP/LACF(2015)13, 51 pages, 26 August 2015 (http://www.oecd.org/officialdocuments/publicdisplaydocumentpdf/?cote=DAF/COMP/LACF(2015)13&docLanguage=En (English version) =Es (Spanish version))

The impact of private labels on the competitiveness of the European food supply chain, European Commission, ISBN 978-92-79-19149-7, January 2011 (with Bunte, F., Galen, M. van, Winter, M. de, Dobson, P., Bergès-Sennou, F., Monier-Dilhan, S., Juhász, A., Moro, D., Sckokai, P., Soregaroli, C., Meulen, B van der, Szajkowska, A.) (https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/41229/1/study_privlab04042011_en.pdf )

Buyer Power in Food Retailing: The European Experience, prepared for Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 12 pages, February 2003.

Buyer Power and its Impact on Competition in the Food Retail Distribution Sector of the European Union, European Commission – DGIV (IV/98/ETD/078), 199+i pages, 1999 (with R. Clarke, S. Davies, and M. Waterson).

The Welfare Consequences of the Exercise of Buyer Power, Research Paper No.16, Office of Fair Trading, 55 pages, 1998 (with M. Waterson and A. Chu).
(http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/21/1/WRAP_Waterson_oft239.pdf )

Vertical Restraints and Competition Policy, Research Paper No.12, Office of Fair Trading, London, 82+vi pages, 1996 (with M. Waterson). 
(http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/19/1/WRAP_Waterson_oft177.pdf )

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure


  • Business Regulation
  • Competition Policy
  • Marketing
  • Business Strategy
  • Retailing
  • Pricing
  • Food Supply
  • Alcohol Policy
  • Sugar Tax
  • Childhood Obesity Policy
  • Shrinkflation
  • Skimpflation

Media Expertise

  • Competition policy
  • Marketing
  • Healthy Ageing

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or