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The Property Rights Theory of the Firm and Mixed Competition: A Counter-Example in the US Health Care Industry

  • Daniel Friesner
  • Robert Rosenman

We present a counter-example to the conventional property rights theory of the firm, which indicates that not-for-profit firms are incapable of directly competing against strictly profit-maximizing firms without the presence of barriers to entry, outside assistance, changing profit status or economies of scale and scope. We employ a modified Bertrand duopoly model of mixed competition in the health care industry to show that, even when these four conditions do not hold, not-for-profit firms may still be able to compete and possibly dominate the market. Consequently, market fundamentals, rather than market intervention, regulation or uncertainty, determine a not-for-profit provider's success or failure in the market. A necessary requirement is that the not-for-profit manager must care about non-pecuniary benefits but be willing to accept lower than normal returns. Moreover, under specific cost and demand conditions, a not-for-profit's ability to compete may actually be enhanced by increasing its production of non-pecuniary benefits.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal International Journal of the Economics of Business.

Volume (Year): 8 (2001)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 437-450

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Handle: RePEc:taf:ijecbs:v:8:y:2001:i:3:p:437-450
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  1. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:91:y:1977:i:3:p:481-93 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Frech, H E, III, 1976. "The Property Rights Theory of the Firm: Empirical Results from a Natural Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(1), pages 143-52, February.
  3. Gertler, Paul J., 1989. "Subsidies, quality, and the regulation of nursing homes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 33-52, February.
  4. Held, Philip J. & Pauly, Mark V., 1983. "Competition and efficiency in the end stage renal disease program," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 95-118, August.
  5. Clarkson, Kenneth W, 1972. "Some Implications of Property Rights in Hospital Management," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(2), pages 363-84, October.
  6. Sloan, Frank A. & Picone, Gabriel A. & Taylor, Donald H., Jr. & Chou, Shin-Yi, 2000. "Hospital Ownership and Cost and Quality of Care: Is There a Dime's Worth of Difference?," Working Papers 00-11, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  7. Oliver Hart & Sanford Grossman, 1985. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Working papers 372, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  8. Kesteloot, K. & Voet, N., 1998. "Incentives for cooperation in quality improvement among hospitals--the impact of the reimbursement system," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(6), pages 701-728, December.
  9. Dor, Avi & Farley, Dean E., 1996. "Payment source and the cost of hospital care: Evidence from a multiproduct cost function with multiple payers," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 1-21, February.
  10. Robert Rosenman & Tong Li & Dan Friesner, 2000. "Grants and cost shifting in outpatient clinics," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(7), pages 835-843.
  11. Hirth, Richard A., 1999. "Consumer information and competition between nonprofit and for-profit nursing homes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 219-240, April.
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