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Besonderheiten und Wettbewerbsprobleme des Marktes für wissenschaftliche Fachzeitschriften


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  • Justus Haucap
  • Tobias Hartwich
  • André Uhde


Prices for scientific, technical and medical (STM) journals have increased markedly over the last 20 years. Differences in pricing between commercial and non-commercial publishers cannot be explained solely by cost differentials. Research-oriented top journals rather enjoy market power, as they are positional goods, which libraries cannot substitute easily. Hence, strictly speaking, each top journal constitutes its own market. Market entry and substitution of expensive journals is difficult, however, because of the coordination problem between authors, referees, and libraries. In addition, libraries face switching costs (because of their tendency to hold complete serials), and demand is also rather inelastic due to the collective decision making processes which characterize libraries' demand decisions. Hence, top journals enjoy significant market power. An effective solution to discipline commercial publishers' pricing can result from a concerted action of science foundations and organizations which force their employees and researchers who receive funding to publish their papers and results for free or at low cost for others. Die Preise für wissenschaftliche, technische und medizinische (WTM) Fachzeitschriften sind in den letzten 20 Jahren dramatisch gestiegen. Die unterschiedlichen Preisentwicklungen zwischen kommerziellen und nichtkommerziellen Verlagen ist dabei nicht durch unterschiedliche Kostenentwicklungen zu erklären. Vielmehr haben die forschungsorientierten Top-Journale Marktmacht, da sie den Charakter positionaler Güter haben, die von Bibliotheken nur sehr schwer substituiert werden können, sodass streng genommen aufgrund der Einzigartigkeit jedes einzelnen Artikels jede Top-Zeitschrift einen eigenen Markt konstituiert. Top-Zeitschriften haben aus drei Gründen einen erheblichen Preissetzungsspielraum: Erstens sind der Markteintritt und die Ablösung teurer Top-Journale aufgrund des Koordinationsproblems zwischen Autoren, Gutachtern und Bibliotheken für neue Zeitschriften sehr schwierig. Zweitens haben Bibliotheken Wechselkosten (durch die Tendenz, vollständige Reihen zu beziehen). Drittens ist die Nachfrage auch aufgrund der kollektiven Entscheidungsfindung in Bibliotheken relativ unelastisch. Ein effektiver Ausweg, der die Verlage disziplinieren würde, könnte die konzertierte Aktion von Forschungsgemeinschaften sein, die ihre Mitarbeiter oder die von ihnen finanziell geförderten Wissenschaftler verpflichten, ihre Artikel und Forschungsergebnisse kostenfrei oder zumindest zu günstigen Konditionen zur Verfügung zu stellen.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research in its journal Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung.

Volume (Year): 74 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 85-107

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Handle: RePEc:diw:diwvjh:74-3-10

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