By Dominich Armentano
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Extra info for Antitrust And Monopoly: Anatomy of a Policy Failure
M A R K E T S T R U C T U R E AND IN D U ST R IA L O R G A N IZ A TIO N One might think that this criticism of the standard competitive perspective would have settled the policy issues decisively. It would seem that no serious MARKET STRUCTURE AND INDUSTRIAL ORGANIZATION 33 student of antitrust could hold perfect competition as an optimal benchmark, or attempt to employ the perfectly competitive structure as an ideal one for real-world competition. And yet this position, far from being abandoned, is the essence of the still popular “structural” approach to competition, and forms the core of industrial organization theory.
Are we to equate this concentration with monopoly power, with a misallocation of resources, and with a reduction in consumer satisfaction? Here as else where, structuralists have gotten the matter backwards. Starting with given levels of concentration they proceed, using neoclassical price theory, to pessi mistic conclusions about conduct and market performance. Yet if they started with revealed consumer preferences in an open market, they would see that concentrated market structures may only reflect buyer choice and entre preneurial efficiency: that is, that structure is determined by performance and not vice versa.
If competition is a process of rivalry between firms in open markets, then that process could increase in in tensity and could be more efficient because of increasing concentration. Con centration could increase as smaller firms grow larger due to increased effi ciency, relative to other firms. Concentration could also increase as firms innovate new products that are popular with consumers, relative to other firms. Companies could merge to enjoy economies of scale in production, distribution, research and development, or capital financing, and the resul 40 COM PETITION THEORY AND THE MARKET ECONOM Y tant economies could also result in growth and concentration, relative to other firms.