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The Meaning of Competition


  • Friedrich A. Hayek


Reprinted here, with kind permission from University of Chicago Press, is the text deriving from a lecture given in 1946. Hayek discusses what, in plain language, the word competition means, and affirms that meaning. He teaches that the plain-language meaning is different than, even in important respects opposite from, the meaning conceived by the science-fiction model known as “perfect competition.” Meanwhile, Hayek speaks of competition that is free, “in the traditional sense,” and he implies that, by and large, with greater freedom there is greater or more intense plain-language competition. The essay, then, is in large part about the argument that, because competition in some market is “imperfect,” government action is needed—action of a sort that, in Hayek’s view, usually treads on freedom, reduces plain-language competition, and harms the common good.

Suggested Citation

  • Friedrich A. Hayek, 2016. "The Meaning of Competition," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 13(2), pages 359–372-3, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:ejw:journl:v:13:y:2016:i:2:p:359-372

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    Cited by:

    1. Octavian-Dragomir Jora & Gheorghe Hurduzeu & Mihaela Iacob & Georgiana-Camelia Cre?an, 2017. "“Dialectical Contradictions” in the Neoclassical Theory and Policy Regarding Market Competition: The Consumer and His Continuos Burden of Crisis," The AMFITEATRU ECONOMIC journal, Academy of Economic Studies - Bucharest, Romania, vol. 19(45), pages 544-544, May.
    2. Philipp Bagus & José Antonio Peña-Ramos & Antonio Sánchez-Bayón, 2021. "COVID-19 and the Political Economy of Mass Hysteria," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 18(4), pages 1-15, February.
    3. Harald A. Benink & Jose Luis Gordillo & Juan Pablo Pardo & Christopher R. Stephens, 2004. "A Study of Neo-Austrian Economics using an Artificial Stock Market," Finance 0411038, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    Discovery; reputation; monopoly;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation


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