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Early Neoclassical views on Monopoly: the Cournotian heritage


  • Andrés Álvarez


In spite of Cournot´s unquestionable influence on contemporary theory, his legacy regarding economic policy and, especially, the regulation of monopolies is mostly unknown. In this paper I explore the several forms of Cournot´s analysis of monopolistic market structures, starting with his theoretical model up to his normative and empirical examination. With the help of little known texts of the author I aim at showing the versatility of his ideas and the richness of his analytical legacy. Against this setup I retrace his influence over three of the most important economists of the end of the XIXth century: Walras, Edgeworth and Marshall. I show that there exists a theoretical representation that constitutes the indisputable reference regarding monopolies that is enriched with normative analyses and leads each one of them to their own specific proposals in regulation and economic policy. RESUMENA pesar de la influencia teórica indiscutible de Cournot sobre la teoría contemporánea, su legado en relación con las políticas económicas y en particular con la regulación de los monopolios es mucho menor. Este trabajo explora las formas diversas que tiene el análisis de las estructuras monopólicas de mercado propuesto por Cournot, partiendo de su modelo teórico hasta su análisis más normativo y empírico. Utilizando textos poco conocidos del autor se pone en evidencia la versatilidad de sus ideas y la riqueza de su legado analítico. A partir de estos elementos se intenta reconstruir la influencia que sus ideas tuvieron sobre tres de los principales autores de finales del siglo XIX: Walras, Edgeworth y Marshall. Se muestra que existe una representación teórica que constituye la referencia indiscutible sobre los monopolios pero que se enriquece en los análisis normativos y resulta en propuestas de regulación y de política económica diversas que cada uno de estos autores desarrolla y se apropia de manera diferente.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrés Álvarez, 2010. "Early Neoclassical views on Monopoly: the Cournotian heritage," Revista Ecos de Economía, Universidad EAFIT, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000442:010514

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rodolphe Dos Santos Ferreira, 2004. "Guerre et paix. Variations sur la notion de concurrence au siècle de Cournot," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 55(3), pages 543-556.
    2. Xavier Greffe & Jérôme Lallement & Michel de Vroey, 2002. "Dictionnaire des grandes oeuvres économiques," Post-Print halshs-00272064, HAL.
    3. James W. Friedman, 2000. "The legacy of Augustin Cournot," Cahiers d'Économie Politique, Programme National Persée, vol. 37(1), pages 31-46.
    4. Wagner, Alfred, 1891. "Marshall's Principles of Economics," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 5, pages 319-338.
    5. Rodolphe dos Santos Ferreira, 2004. "Guerre et paix," Post-Print hal-00279336, HAL.
    6. Edgeworth, Francis Ysidro, 1881. "Mathematical Psychics," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number edgeworth1881.
    7. Carlo Benetti, 1997. "El método normativo de la teoría económica positiva (Traducción de José Félix Catano)," Revista Cuadernos de Economía, Universidad Nacional de Colombia -FCE - CID, June.
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    More about this item


    Cournot; Walras; Edgeworth; Marshall; Monopolio; Organización Industrial.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • B13 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Neoclassical through 1925 (Austrian, Marshallian, Walrasian, Wicksellian)
    • B16 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Quantitative and Mathematical
    • D42 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Monopoly


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