Spotlight on a Student: Jia Sheen Nah

Empirical Studies of Consumer Search and Market Power

Jia Sheen Nah

What is your research about?

Australian households are on hundreds of different electricity plans. Since there is no product differentiation in this sector, it is surprising that different households are charged different prices. Ruling out product differentiation as a factor of differential pricing, my co-authors and I disentangle the roles of search and negotiation in pricing outcomes.

To collect data on negotiated prices, we created a call center to call retail electricity companies’ call centers. We hired actors from a casting website who followed scripts that contained variation in customer characteristics and their previous search efforts. For instance, is a customer who negotiates with a lower price-to-beat able to obtain a lower price than a similar customer who negotiates with a higher price-to-beat? Does revealing that one is eligible for a government subsidy yield higher prices than someone who is not because subsidies are not completely passed-through to the customer? Our research, therefore, has several implications for consumer policy.

Who are your supervisors?

I work closely with A/Prof. David Byrne and Dr. Leslie Martin, who are both from the Department of Economics. A/Prof. David Byrne specialises in empirical industrial organisation and Dr. Leslie Martin is an expert in energy and environmental economics.

What do you want to do next?

I have just submitted my PhD dissertation and I will be joining the Power and Utilities team at KPMG London. I look forward to applying the technical skills and knowledge on energy markets that I have developed throughout my PhD in the real world!


I was a recipient of the Melbourne International Research Scholarship. Additionally, I have also benefited from financial support from the Faculty of Business and Economics.

Jia and her supervisors welcome any enquiries about her research. You can email her at

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Ruby Brown

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