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Profit Maximization and the Market Selection Hypothesis

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  • Prajit K. Dutta
  • Roy Radner

Abstract

We examine the proposition that competitive firms must behave as if they were maximizing profits; otherwise they would go bankrupt, or even fail to be financed in a competitive capital market. We investigate a model in which an entrepreneur raises funds for a risky enterprise on a competitive capital market, by offering a "dividend policy" based on the realized (stochastic) flow of earnings. We show that an entrepreneur who maximizes the expected sum of discounted dividends is sure to fail in finite time. On the other hand, many other behaviours yield positive expected profits and are able to attract investment funds, and yet result in a positive probability of surviving forever. As a consequence, if new firms have sufficiently diverse behaviours, then even if there is a constant stream of new entrants, after a long time practically all of the surviving firms will not have been maximizing profits.

Suggested Citation

  • Prajit K. Dutta & Roy Radner, 1999. "Profit Maximization and the Market Selection Hypothesis," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(4), pages 769-798.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:66:y:1999:i:4:p:769-798.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/1467-937X.00108
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    Cited by:

    1. Blume, Lawrence E. & Easley, David, 2002. "Optimality and Natural Selection in Markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 107(1), pages 95-135, November.
    2. Schipper, Burkhard C., 2009. "Imitators and optimizers in Cournot oligopoly," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 33(12), pages 1981-1990, December.
    3. Xiao, Tiaojun & Chen, Guohua, 2009. "Wholesale pricing and evolutionarily stable strategies of retailers with imperfectly observable objective," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 196(3), pages 1190-1201, August.
    4. Robert Swinney & Gérard P. Cachon & Serguei Netessine, 2011. "Capacity Investment Timing by Start-ups and Established Firms in New Markets," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(4), pages 763-777, April.
    5. Edoardo Gaffeo & Domenico Delli Gatti & Saul Desiderio & Mauro Gallegati, 2008. "Adaptive Microfoundations for Emergent Macroeconomics," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 34(4), pages 441-463.
    6. William Collier & Francis Green & Young-Bae Kim & John Peirson, 2011. "Education, Training and Economic Performance: Evidence from Establishment Survival Data," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 32(4), pages 336-361, December.
    7. Ingham, Alan & Ma, Jie & Ulph, Alistair, 2007. "Climate change, mitigation and adaptation with uncertainty and learning," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(11), pages 5354-5369, November.
    8. Cho, In-Koo & Kasa, Kenneth, 2014. "An escape time interpretation of robust control," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 1-12.
    9. Ausloos, M & Clippe, P & Pekalski, A, 2004. "Model of macroeconomic evolution in stable regionally dependent economic fields," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 337(1), pages 269-287.
    10. Ronald W. Anderson, 2002. "Capital structure, firm liquidity and growth," Working Paper Research 27, National Bank of Belgium.
    11. Steen Thomsen & Caspar Rose, 2004. "Foundation Ownership and Financial Performance: Do Companies Need Owners?," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 343-364, December.
    12. Pedro Garcia-del-Barrio & Stefan Szymanski, 2009. "Goal! Profit Maximization Versus Win Maximization in Soccer," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 34(1), pages 45-68, February.
    13. Larsson, Bo & Wijkander, Hans, 2012. "Banking on Regulations?," Research Papers in Economics 2012:3, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
    14. Thomsen, Steen & Rose, Caspar, 2002. "Foundation ownership and financial performance. Do companies need owners?," Working Papers 2002-3, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Finance.
    15. repec:pit:wpaper:309 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Luo, Guo Ying, 2009. "Natural Selection, Irrationality and Monopolistic Competition," MPRA Paper 15357, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Asplund, Björn Marcus, 2007. "A Test of Profit Maximization," CEPR Discussion Papers 6177, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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