Edward Chamberlin

Last updated
Edward H. Chamberlin
Edward Chamberlin.jpg
Born(1899-05-18)May 18, 1899
DiedJuly 16, 1967(1967-07-16) (aged 68)
Nationality American
Institution Harvard University
Field Microeconomics
School or
tradition
Neoclassical economics
Alma mater University of Iowa
University of Michigan
Harvard University
Doctoral
advisor
Allyn Abbott Young
Contributions Monopolistic competition

Edward Hastings Chamberlin (May 18, 1899 – July 16, 1967) was an American economist. He was born in La Conner, Washington, and died in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Contents

Chamberlin studied first at the University of Iowa (where he was influenced by Frank H. Knight), then pursued graduate-level studies at the University of Michigan, eventually receiving his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1927.

Economics

For most of his career Edward Chamberlin taught economics at Harvard (1937–1967). He made significant contributions to microeconomics, particularly on competition theory and consumer choice, and their connection to prices. Edward Chamberlin coined the term "product differentiation" to describe how a supplier may be able to charge a greater amount for a product than perfect competition would allow.

His most significant contribution was the Chamberlinian monopolistic competition theory. Chamberlin published his book The Theory of Monopolistic Competition in 1933, the same year that Joan Robinson published her book on the same topic: The Economics of Imperfect Competition, so these two economists can be regarded as the parents of the modern study of imperfect competition. Chamberlain's book is often compared to Robinson's book The Economics of Imperfect Competition, in which Robinson coined the term "monopsony," which is used to describe the buyer converse of a seller monopoly. Monopsony is commonly applied to buyers of labour, where the employer has wage setting power that allows it to exercise Pigouvian exploitation [1] and pay workers less than their marginal productivity. Robinson used monopsony to describe the wage gap between women and men workers of equal productivity. [2]

Chamberlin advocated for the differentiation of product in order for firms to properly distinguish themselves from other sellers. The key to this is to leverage buyer’s preferences and not shoot in the dark and hope for random results; it must be purposeful. Chamberlin also suggested that a monopolistic form of differentiation could present itself in the form of a patent or copyright. While patents and copyrights are empirically monopolistic, it is representative of a monopolist "maximizing his total profit within the market he controls", [3] which still leaves other sellers the opportunity to differentiate their own products. Trademarks are also of consideration, but it is noted that the caveat of trade-marking a product is that it is legally enforceable in that they cannot be used by anyone else.

Of note in his list of contributions to the field of economics, Chamberlin is informally credited as the founder of Industrial Organization, [4] which is a subset of economics that pertains to the innerworkings of how firms compete with one another. This field encompasses a plethora of topics, including profit maximization, market power, product quality, and antitrust law, which is imperative when studying firm behavior and business practices [5] (Church and Ware, p. 12). There are several facets of industrial organization that are embedded in the economic theories of Chamberlin, including product differentiation and the use of patents to maximize profits and strengthen one’s monopolistic position in the market.

Chamberlin is also considered one of the first theorists who applied the marginal revenue idea, which is implicit on Cournot's monopoly theory in the late 1920s and early 1930s. [6] Chamberlin is thought to have conducted "not only the first market experiment, but also the first economic experiment of any kind," with experiments he used in the classroom to illustrate how prices don't necessarily reach equilibrium. [7] Chamberlin concludes that most market prices are determined by monopolistic and competitive aspects. [6]

Chamberlin's theory of monopolistic competition is used by sociologist Harrison White in his "markets from networks" model of market structure and competition.

The works of Chamberlin, Robinson, and other contributors to the Structure-Conduct-Performance Paradigm were heavily discounted by game theorists in the 1960s, but Nobel-Prize winner Paul Krugman and others built the foundations of the New Theory of International Trade by combining such theories of industrial structure with production functions that assumed significant economies of scale and scope.

Major works

Related Research Articles

Microeconomics Behavior of individuals and firms

Microeconomics is a branch of mainstream economics that studies the behavior of individuals and firms in making decisions regarding the allocation of scarce resources and the interactions among these individuals and firms. Microeconomics focuses on the study of individual markets, sectors, or industries as opposed to the national economy as whole, which is studied in macroeconomics.

A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity. This contrasts with a monopsony which relates to a single entity's control of a market to purchase a good or service, and with oligopoly and duopoly which consists of a few sellers dominating a market. Monopolies are thus characterized by a lack of economic competition to produce the good or service, a lack of viable substitute goods, and the possibility of a high monopoly price well above the seller's marginal cost that leads to a high monopoly profit. The verb monopolise or monopolize refers to the process by which a company gains the ability to raise prices or exclude competitors. In economics, a monopoly is a single seller. In law, a monopoly is a business entity that has significant market power, that is, the power to charge overly high prices, which is associated with a decrease in social surplus. Although monopolies may be big businesses, size is not a characteristic of a monopoly. A small business may still have the power to raise prices in a small industry.

Monopolistic competition Imperfect competition of differentiated products that are not perfect substitutes

Monopolistic competition is a type of imperfect competition such that there are many producers competing against each other, but selling products that are differentiated from one another and hence are not perfect substitutes. In monopolistic competition, a firm takes the prices charged by its rivals as given and ignores the impact of its own prices on the prices of other firms. If this happens in the presence of coercive government, monopolistic competition will fall into government-granted monopoly. Unlike perfect competition, the firm maintains spare capacity. Models of monopolistic competition are often used to model industries. Textbook examples of industries with market structures similar to monopolistic competition include restaurants, cereal, clothing, shoes, and service industries in large cities. The "founding father" of the theory of monopolistic competition is Edward Hastings Chamberlin, who wrote a pioneering book on the subject, Theory of Monopolistic Competition (1933). Joan Robinson published a book The Economics of Imperfect Competition with a comparable theme of distinguishing perfect from imperfect competition. Further work on monopolistic competition was undertaken by Dixit and Stiglitz who created the Dixit-Stiglitz model which has proved applicable used in the sub fields of international trade theory, macroeconomics and economic geography.

An oligopoly is a market form wherein a market or industry is dominated by a small group of large sellers (oligopolists). For example, it has been found that insulin and the electrical industry are highly oligopolist in the US.

In economics, specifically general equilibrium theory, a perfect market, also known as an atomistic market, is defined by several idealizing conditions, collectively called perfect competition, or atomistic competition. In theoretical models where conditions of perfect competition hold, it has been demonstrated that a market will reach an equilibrium in which the quantity supplied for every product or service, including labor, equals the quantity demanded at the current price. This equilibrium would be a Pareto optimum.

In economics, imperfect competition refers to a situation where the characteristics of an economic market do not fulfil all the necessary conditions of a perfectly competitive market, resulting in market failure.

In economics, industrial organization is a field that builds on the theory of the firm by examining the structure of firms and markets. Industrial organization adds real-world complications to the perfectly competitive model, complications such as transaction costs, limited information, and barriers to entry of new firms that may be associated with imperfect competition. It analyzes determinants of firm and market organization and behavior on a continuum between competition and monopoly, including from government actions.

In economics and marketing, product differentiation is the process of distinguishing a product or service from others, to make it more attractive to a particular target market. This involves differentiating it from competitors' products as well as a firm's own products. The concept was proposed by Edward Chamberlin in his 1933 The Theory of Monopolistic Competition.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to industrial organization:

Joan Robinson English economist (1903–1983)

Joan Violet Robinson was a British economist well known for her wide-ranging contributions to economic theory. She was a central figure in what became known as post-Keynesian economics.

In economics, market power refers to the ability of a firm to influence the price at which it sells a product or service to increase economic profit. In other words, market power occurs if a firm does not face a perfectly elastic demand curve and can set its price (P) above marginal cost (MC) without losing sales. This indicates that the magnitude of market power is associated with the gap between P and MC at a firm's profit maximising level of output. Such propensities contradict perfectly competitive markets, where market participants have no market power, P = MC and firms earn zero economic profit. Market participants in perfectly competitive markets are consequently referred to as 'price takers', whereas market participants that exhibit market power are referred to as 'price makers' or 'price setters'.

Fritz Machlup

Fritz Machlup was an Austrian-American economist who was president of the International Economic Association from 1971–1974. He was one of the first economists to examine knowledge as an economic resource, and is credited with popularizing the concept of the information society.

Market structure

Market structure, in economics, depicts how firms are differentiated and categorised based on the types of goods they sell (homogeneous/heterogeneous) and how their operations are affected by external factors and elements. Market structure makes it easier to understand the characteristics of diverse markets.

Market (economics) System in which parties engage in transactions according to supply and demand

A market is a composition of systems, institutions, procedures, social relations or infrastructures whereby parties engage in exchange. While parties may exchange goods and services by barter, most markets rely on sellers offering their goods or services to buyers in exchange for money. It can be said that a market is the process by which the prices of goods and services are established. Markets facilitate trade and enable the distribution and resource allocation in a society. Markets allow any trade-able item to be evaluated and priced. A market emerges more or less spontaneously or may be constructed deliberately by human interaction in order to enable the exchange of rights of services and goods. Markets generally supplant gift economies and are often held in place through rules and customs, such as a booth fee, competitive pricing, and source of goods for sale.

Competition (economics) Rivalry between firms; ability of companies to take each others market share in a given market

In economics, competition is a scenario where different economic firms are in contention to obtain goods that are limited by varying the elements of the marketing mix: price, product, promotion and place. In classical economic thought, competition causes commercial firms to develop new products, services and technologies, which would give consumers greater selection and better products. The greater the selection of a good is in the market, prices are typically lower for the products, compared to what the price would be if there was no competition (monopoly) or little competition (oligopoly). This is because there is now no rivalry between firms to obtain the product as there is enough for everyone. The level of competition that exists within the market is dependant on a variety of factors both on the firm/ seller side; the number of firms, barriers to entry, information availability, availability/ accessibility of resources. The number of buyers within the market also factors into competition with each buyer having a willingness to pay, influencing overall demand for the product in the market.

A bilateral monopoly is a market structure consisting of both a monopoly and a monopsony.

In neoclassical economics, a market distortion is any event in which a market reaches a market clearing price for an item that is substantially different from the price that a market would achieve while operating under conditions of perfect competition and state enforcement of legal contracts and the ownership of private property. A distortion is "any departure from the ideal of perfect competition that therefore interferes with economic agents maximizing social welfare when they maximize their own". A proportional wage-income tax, for instance, is distortionary, whereas a lump-sum tax is not. In a competitive equilibrium, a proportional wage income tax discourages work.

In Chamberlinian monopolistic competition every one of the firms have some monopoly power, but entry drives monopoly profits to zero. The concept gets its name from Edward Chamberlin.

An economic profit is the difference between the revenue a commercial entity has received from its outputs and the opportunity costs of its inputs. Unlike an accounting profit, an economic profit takes into account both a firm's implicit and explicit costs, whereas an accounting profit only relates to the explicit costs which appear on a firm's financial statements. Because it includes additional implicit costs, the economic profit usually differs from the accounting profit.

In economics, a monopsony is a market structure in which a single buyer substantially controls the market as the major purchaser of goods and services offered by many would-be sellers. The microeconomic theory of monopsony assumes a single entity to have market power over all sellers as the only purchaser of a good or service. This is a similar power to that of a monopolist, which can influence the price for its buyers in a monopoly, where multiple buyers have only one seller of a good or service available to purchase from.

References

  1. Persky, Joseph; Tsang, Herbert (1974). "Pigouvian Exploitation of Labor". The Review of Economics and Statistics. 56 (1): 52–57. doi:10.2307/1927526. JSTOR   1927526.
  2. http://www.u.arizona.edu/~rlo/696i/Monopsony_Model_Latex.pdf
  3. Chamberlin, Edward (1933). The Theory of Monopolistic Competition:. Oxford University Press. p. 57.
  4. Sandmo, Agnar (2011). Economics Evolving. Princeton University Press. p. 301.
  5. Church & Ware (2004). Industrial Organization: A Strategic Approach. McGraw Hill. p. 12.
  6. 1 2 Brue, Stanley L.; Randy R. Grant (2008). The evolution of economic thought. Thomson. p. 543.
  7. Ross Miller (2002). Paving Wall Street: Experimental Economics and the Quest for the Perfect Market . New York: John Wiley & Sons. pp.  73–74. ISBN   0-471-12198-3.