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Firms' Market Power, Endogenous Preferences and the Focus of Competition Policy

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  • D. P. T. Young
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    Abstract

    Conventional neoclassical views of dominance are generally restricted to a concern for a firm's market power seen in terms of the ability to raise and maintain prices above their marginal costs of production. A prime example of this approach is the application of dominant firm price leadership models, which has led to a restricted theoretical perception of the nature of market power and to an incomplete view of the social costs of monopoly power. This paper argues that a broader conception of a firm's market power leads to a quite different perspective on its conduct. In particular, if we allow dominance to involve the ability to influence product demand patterns, then the theoretical analysis of firm behaviour changes significantly. Specifically, it implies the endogeneity of preferences which, it is argued, represents an important alternative to mainstream analysis. It is suggested that we need to consider a firm's dominance not so much in terms of its pricing in the context of a particular market structure but to focus on its ability to gain advantage over its rivals in terms of 'creating' an asymmetry in the demand for its products. This has important implications for competition policy, for it suggests a need to concentrate on the 'power' of firms and less on the effects of a change in market structure. Likewise, we need to reconsider the adequacy of defining markets in terms of product demand characteristics.

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    File URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/095382500106821
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Review of Political Economy.

    Volume (Year): 12 (2000)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 73-87

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:12:y:2000:i:1:p:73-87

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    1. Pagoulatos, Emilio & Sorensen, Robert, 1986. "What determines the elasticity of industry demand?," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 237-250, September.
    2. Pollak, Robert A, 1978. "Endogenous Tastes in Demand and Welfare Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 374-79, May.
    3. Young, David, 1996. "Changing Tastes and Endogenous Preferences: Some Issues in Modelling the Demand for Agricultural Products," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 23(3), pages 281-300.
    4. Cowling, Keith & Mueller, Dennis C, 1978. "The Social Costs of Monopoly Power," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 88(352), pages 727-48, December.
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    7. Ono, Yoshiyasu, 1982. "Price Leadership: A Theoretical Analysis," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 49(193), pages 11-20, February.
    8. Bailey, Elizabeth E, 1981. "Contestability and the Design of Regulatory and Antitrust Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(2), pages 178-83, May.
    9. Gisser, Micha, 1986. "Price Leadership and Welfare Losses in U.S. Manufacturing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 756-67, September.
    10. Geroski, Paul A. & Jacquemin, Alexis, 1984. "Dominant firms and their alleged decline," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 1-27, March.
    11. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 1993. "The Revenge of Homo Economicus: Contested Exchange and the Revival of Political Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 83-102, Winter.
    12. von Weizsacker, Carl Christian, 1971. "Notes on endogenous change of tastes," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 345-372, December.
    13. Aiginger, Karl & Pfaffermayr, Michael, 1997. "Looking at the Cost Side of "Monopoly."," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(3), pages 245-67, September.
    14. Littlechild, S C, 1981. "Misleading Calculations of the Social Costs of Monopoly Power," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 91(362), pages 348-63, June.
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