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Market relations and the competitive process

Market relations and the competitive process

Stan Metcalfe
Alan Warde
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Market relations and the competitive process
    Book Description:

    There has been increasing interest and debate in recent years on the instituted nature of economic processes in general and the related ideas of the market, in particular the competitive process. This debate lies at the interface between two largely independent disciplines, economics and sociology, and reflects an attempt to bring the two fields of discourse more closely together. This book, newly available in paperback, explores this interface in a number of ways, looking at the competitive process and market relations from a number of different perspectives. It includes a wide range of contributors, most of whom are leading writers and thinkers in the field. The book considers the social role of economic institutions in society and examines the various meanings embedded in the word 'markets', as well as developing arguments on the nature of competition as an instituted economic process, rather than as competition being something that disturbs norms or institutions. It goes on to consider the deeper and more involved connection between markets and cognition, explaining how institutions can ease cognitive difficulties, and the effect of culture on markets and competition is also fully studied. This book will be of vital use to students and academics working in the fields of economics, sociology and business studies. It sketches the agenda for future research about markets and the competitive process.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-029-3
    Subjects: Economics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of figures and tables
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. List of contributors
    (pp. vii-vii)
  5. Series foreword
    (pp. viii-viii)

    The CRIC–MUP Series New Dynamics of Innovation and Competition is designed to make an important contribution to this continually expanding field of research and scholarship. As a series of edited volumes, it combines approaches and perspectives developed by CRIC’s own research agenda with those of a wide range of internationally renowned scholars. A distinctive emphasis on processes of economic and social transformation frames the CRIC research programme. Research on the significance of demand and consumption, on the empirical and theoretical understanding of competition and markets, and on the complex inter-organisational basis of innovation processes, provides the thematic linkage between...

  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-11)
    Stan Metcalfe and Alan Warde

    There has been increasing interest and debate in recent years on the instituted nature of economic processes in general and the related ideas of the market and the competitive process in particular. This debate lies at the interface between two largely independent disciplines, economics and sociology, and reflects an attempt to bring the two fields of discourse more closely together. In many ways this is to return to a previous age when the study of institutional arrangements was at the centre of the study of capitalism. The contributions to this volume explore this interface in a number of ways. The...

  7. 1 On the complexities and limits of market organisation
    (pp. 12-40)
    Richard R. Nelson

    The close of the twentieth century saw a virtual canonisation of markets as the best, indeed the only really effective, way to govern an economic system. The market organisation being canonised was simple and pure, along the lines of the standard textbook model in economics. For-profit firms are the vehicle of production and provision. Given what suppliers offer, free choice on the part of customers, who decide on the basis of their own knowledge and preferences where to spend their money, determines how much of what is bought by whom. Competition among firms assures that production is efficient and tailored...

  8. 2 Markets, embeddedness and trust: problems of polysemy and idealism
    (pp. 41-57)
    Andrew Sayer

    In this paper I develop a critique of certain approaches to markets and firm behaviour in economics and economic sociology. There are two main targets of the critique. The first concerns some common approaches to markets and the nature of firms in relation to them. Here I argue that the diverse uses of the term ‘market’ in contemporary lay and academic discourse cause confusion. Also problematic in both mainstream and institutional economics is the tendency to treat market exchange as the atomic structure of all economic processes, and as the default form of economic co-ordination, so that any other forms...

  9. 3 Cognition and markets
    (pp. 58-72)
    Brian J. Loasby

    Whether as an explanation of decision making or as a guide to making decisions, rational choice theory is not very interesting. What is called ‘a decision’ is merely the logical precipitate of the premisses: everything that might be regarded as a determinant of choice is already in place, and assumed to be known (if only as a probability distribution) to the chooser. Within choice theory agents make no decisions. Now this should not be a source of complaint, for, paradoxical as it may seem, choice theory is not about decision making. Its purpose is to provide an essential element in...

  10. 4 Competition as instituted economic process
    (pp. 73-94)
    Mark Harvey

    A challenge to the new economic sociology is that centraleconomicprocesses should become the focus of theoretical and empirical sociological analysis. This chapter makes some steps towards analysing competition in that light, partly because competition is often assumed to be the market force of all market forces. The central argument made is both that competition processes are co-instituted with markets (including end markets), and that market processes are in turn co-instituted with industrial divisions of labour. Thus, it is suggested that an excessive burden of explanatory expectation is placed on competitive processes within markets, as the dynamic of capitalist...

  11. 5 Markets, materiality and the ‘new economy’
    (pp. 95-113)
    Don Slater

    The contemporary ‘cultural turn’ in thinking about economic processes has been deeply bound up with narratives of ‘dematerialisation’. We might start from Veblenesque stories of status symbols, and proceed through semiotic stories of ideologies and codes, through tales of post-industrial societies and service economies, through post-Fordist segmentation and lifestyling and finally on to knowledge, information or ‘weightless’ economies, ‘new economies’, global brands and digital commodities. Indeed, Mark Poster’sWhat’s the Matter with the Internet?(2001) declares a turn into ‘linguistic capitalism’, and his title clearly identifies the issue at hand: the dubious materiality of contemporary social reality. The story is...

  12. 6 Between markets, firms and networks: constituting the cultural economy
    (pp. 114-129)
    Fran Tonkiss

    Cultural and creative sectors have come to represent key areas of growth within a number of regional and national economies, and figure prominently within arguments regarding the increasingly ‘cultural’ character of economic processes and the restructuring of market forms. An emergent cultural economy is also of critical interest for institutional analysis, and for a number of reasons. Firstly, such an analysis addresses very clearly the need to take culture seriously within the study of economic organisation – not simply in terms of seeing culture as a kind of ‘padding’ for economic activity, but as a sector of production, distribution and consumption...

  13. 7 Regulatory issues and industrial policy in football
    (pp. 130-143)
    Jonathan Michie and Christine Oughton

    The peculiar economics of professional sports leagues has long been recognised (see Neale, 1964). Traditionally, the essence of the problem was seen to lie in the fact that sports leagues and the individual clubs that make up the league provide a joint product that depends on effective co-operation between competing clubs. Clubs agree to join, and be regulated by, a league because co-operation in the supply of a joint product increases the economic value of the product supplied by each individual club. The output of the league and its constituent members is maximised when there is some degree of competitive...

  14. 8 The evolution of the UK software market: scale of demand and the role of competences
    (pp. 144-157)
    Suma S. Athreye

    This chapter studies the evolution of the software industry in the UK. Previous work on the evolution of the software industry in the UK by Grindley (1996) emphasised the constraints imposed on the newly emerging software sector due to the steady erosion of a domestic hardware capability. While hardware manufacturers were an important source of demand and often supplied the entrepreneurship required for software firms in the early stages, we show that independent vendors of software gradually dominated the supply of output in this sector. They also replaced in-house development of software in a process of vertical disintegration. The global...

  15. 9 Open systems and regional innovation: the resurgence of Route 128 in Massachusetts
    (pp. 158-189)
    Michael H. Best

    The Boston area has the highest concentration of colleges and universities, research institutes and hospitals of any place in the world. The plethora of graduate research programmes suggested that the industrial future of Massachusetts was secure in the emerging knowledge economy of the late twentieth century. However, the research intensity of the region has not insulated the state from the vicissitudes of the business cycle. For example, after enjoying a ninety-month expansion labelled the ‘Massachusetts’ Miracle’, the Commonwealth lost one-third of its manufacturing jobs between 1985 and 1992. The country’s first high-tech region had seemingly lost industrial leadership much more...

  16. Conclusion
    (pp. 190-208)
    Stan Metcalfe and Alan Warde

    In conclusion we draw together and evaluate a number of the themes raised in this volume and begin to sketch an agenda for future research about markets and the competitive process. Happily, this book resides within a now-flourishing broader stream of ideas at the interface between economics and sociology. Some of this new work signals the resurrection of economic sociology, while other aspects of it emanate from within the literature on innovation processes and, more generally, from evolutionary economics.

    There has been a very significant revival of interest in economic sociology in the last decade (for reviews see Lie, 1997;...

  17. Index
    (pp. 209-214)