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Practice Makes Perfect: On Professional Standards

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  • Sällström, Susanna
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    Abstract

    Professional standards vary across professions and also change over time. One profession which has remained perfectionist is classical music, where the amount of practising is striking compared with other professions. Practising is a matter of increasing the reliability of ones skills rather than relying on a tool or a strike of genius to get it right. Once perfection has been achieved the individual will aim for higher quality since the effort is more likely to be worthwhile. Because the returns from perfection are higher the harder it is, the perfectionist equilibrium only arises in situations where genius is rare and reliability is low. As tools improve, even though perfection has become easier to achieve, professional standards may nonetheless decline. This mechanism is captured in an oligopoly model, where the failure rate and the quality are endogenously determined. It is shown that whilst individuals might be better off not playing a perfectionist equilibrium when reliability is low, welfare is higher in the perfectionist equilibrium than an enthusiastic equilibrium. Furthermore, when reliability is high individuals will play an enthusiastic equilibrium even though welfare and profits would be higher if they were perfectionists.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6377.

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    Date of creation: Jul 2007
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    Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6377

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    Related research

    Keywords: cultural economics; human capital; imperfect competition; learning; patent race; quality; skill; standards; technological change;

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    1. Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "The Economics of Superstars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 845-58, December.
    2. Mussa, Michael & Rosen, Sherwin, 1978. "Monopoly and product quality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 301-317, August.
    3. Jaskold Gabszewicz, J. & Thisse, J. -F., 1979. "Price competition, quality and income disparities," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 340-359, June.
    4. Paul Romer, 1991. "Endogenous Technological Change," NBER Working Papers 3210, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Reinganum, Jennifer F., 1989. "The timing of innovation: Research, development, and diffusion," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 14, pages 849-908 Elsevier.
    6. Richard E. Caves, 2003. "Contracts Between Art and Commerce," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(2), pages 73-83, Spring.
    7. Black, Sandra E & Lynch, Lisa M, 1996. "Human-Capital Investments and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 263-67, May.
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