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Competition and Performance: The Different Roles of Capital and Labor

  • Mohnen Pierre
  • Raa Thijs ten


Neoclassical economists argue that competition promotes efficiency. They consider technology as given though. In the long run technological progress is an important determinant of the level of welfare and Schumpeter argued that monopoly rents help entrepreneurs to capture the gains of R&D and hence to invest in it. We investigate the overall effect of competition on performance. Performance is measured by TFP-growth. As a negative measure of competition we use rent. Rent is defined as the excess factor rewards over and above their perfectly competitive values (marginal productivities). Input-output analysis enables us to calculate rent for the Canadian sectors over a thirty-year period and to decompose it in its capital and labor components. In line with the literature we find that rent has no significant influence on productivity. We find an interesting result however: the components influence performance in opposite directions. Capital rent has a positive role and labor rent a negative one. The neoclassical economists and Schumpeter seem both right, but the mechanisms differ. The use of rent as a source of funding for R&D applies to capital and the argument that rent yields slack pertains to labor.

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Paper provided by Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT) in its series Research Memorandum with number 034.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:unm:umamer:2003034
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  1. Mohnen, P. & Ten Raa, T., 2000. "A general equilibrium analysis of the evolution of Canadian service productivity," Other publications TiSEM aae1ef0b-8460-49d3-bb4e-8, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  2. Philippe Aghion & Nick Bloom & Richard Blundell & Rachel Griffith & Peter Howitt, 2005. "Competition and Innovation: an Inverted-U Relationship," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 701-728.
  3. Nickell, S.J., 1993. "Competition and Crporate Performance," Economics Series Working Papers 99155, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. Ten Raa, T., 2005. "Aggregation of productivity indices : The allocative efficiency correction," Other publications TiSEM 0c775438-4bfa-44bd-8111-2, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  5. Edward Wolff, 2006. "The growth of information workers in the US economy, 1950-2000: the role of technological change, computerization, and structural change," Economic Systems Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(3), pages 221-255.
  6. Ten Raa, T. & Mohnen, P., 2002. "Neoclassical growth accounting and frontier analysis : A synthesis," Other publications TiSEM b3c67537-f899-4cf5-a5cb-c, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  7. Philippe Aghion & Christopher Harris & Peter Howitt & John Vickers, 2001. "Competition, Imitation and Growth with Step-by-Step Innovation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(3), pages 467-492.
  8. Boone, Jan, 2001. "Intensity of competition and the incentive to innovate," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(5), pages 705-726, April.
  9. Surendra Gera & Wulong Gu & Zhengxi Lin, 2001. "Technology and the demand for skills in Canada: an industry-level analysis," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(1), pages 132-148, February.
  10. D. W. Jorgenson & Z. Griliches, 1967. "The Explanation of Productivity Change," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(3), pages 249-283.
  11. A. P. Lerner, 1934. "The Concept of Monopoly and the Measurement of Monopoly Power," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(3), pages 157-175.
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