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Editors: 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. This book explores this interface in a number of ways, looking at the competitive process and market relations from a number of different perspectives. It 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. 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. The book discusses the concepts of polysemy , idealism, cognition, materiality and cultural economy. Michael Best provides an account of regional economic adaptation to changed market circumstances. This is the story of the dynamics of capitalism focused on the resurgence of the Route 128 region around Boston following its decline in the mid-1980s in the face of competition from Silicon Valley. The book also addresses the question of how this resurgence was achieved.

Problems of polysemy and idealism

material aspects of economic life and in presenting an overly benign view which underestimates the instrumentality of most economic relations. Finally, I conclude with a reminder of the political significance of explanations of markets and competition. The multiple meanings of ‘market’1 If we are to discuss market relations and competition, we need to be clear on what the former involve. However, such is the variety of uses of the term ‘market’ that it is important to distinguish them if we are not to talk at crossed purposes. As Maureen Mackintosh observes, these are

in Market relations and the competitive process
Constituting the cultural economy

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 involving distinctive organisational forms, market relations and competitive logics. Secondly, within the cultural field market actors, market segments and market commodities are constituted in innovative and often unstable ways. Thirdly, contemporary cultural industries are subject to a highly variable mix of markets, firms and networks as means of shaping economic processes

in Market relations and the competitive process
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coming to mirror theory through the policy and practice of the powerful. We would not go so far as to say that the discourse of the virtuous market has created the institutional forms that it (mis)describes. Nevertheless, there are many potential ways in which the attribution of positive functions to market relations would affect understandings of reality and thus economic, political and social action. What we find most striking is the extent to which the market is considered to be without stain in the current period. Unparalleled, if not entirely unprecedented

in Market relations and the competitive process
Open Access (free)

amount to very much, but rather that their optimisations are locally contingent and are certainly not independent of the network of social interactions and the institutional frames within which any individual is located. Evolutionary economics depends crucially on the idea of the mutual determining of actions through the functioning of market processes and thus the instituted aspects of these processes. As such, markets as instituted relations between producers and consumers become the context in which evolution is possible. There is a natural complementarity between a

in Market relations and the competitive process

concept of ‘instituted economic process’ with the other and more widely adopted Polanyan legacy of ‘embeddedness’, the chapter explores competition as an instituted economic process in five dimensions: the co-institution of competitive processes and markets; relations of power and mutual dependence between classes of economic agent; the formation of units of competition; the formation of scales of competition; and the development of formal and informal norms of competition. The chapter then provides an exemplification of this analytical framework through a schematic

in Market relations and the competitive process
Scale of demand and the role of competences

barrier to growth reported by UK software firms. The highest barriers reported by firms are those concerning the availability of finance and of marketing, management and technical skills. 154 Suma S. Athreye Table 8.6 Factors contributing to the competitive advantage of firms Extreme scores Factors in competitive advantage N % Specialised expertise Long-term relations with clients Responsiveness to client needs Product quality or design Established reputation Technological leadership and innovation Growth of market demand in the UK R&D expertise Marketing and

in Market relations and the competitive process

consumption. To the extent that economic actors – producers or consumers – are indeed able to aggregate things, it is precisely on the basis of the cultural reasoning through which they establish (and dispute) provisionally stable categorisations. This is not to say that goods and their categorisations are always unstable and that therefore market structures, enduring competitive relations and meaningful aggregation are impossible. There are everyday reifications that fit economic analysis reasonably well (for example, a financial analyst looking at the car market in global

in Market relations and the competitive process
Open Access (free)

3 Cognition and markets Brian J. Loasby Introduction 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

in Market relations and the competitive process
The resurgence of Route 128 in Massachusetts

. Open-systems networking The box at the left of figure 9.2 represents inter-firm networking. Three types of inter-firm relation can be distinguished: market, closed-system, or keiretsu, and open-systems networking. Inter-firm relations are structurally linked to intra-firm organisation: Big Business and arm’s-length market-driven supplier 166 Michael H. Best relations, the kaisha business model and keiretsu long-term supplier relations, and entrepreneurial firm and open-systems networking. The kaisha business model fostered the principle of multi-product flow and

in Market relations and the competitive process