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Edited by: 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.

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Mark Harvey

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 economies. Indeed, I argue here that many conceptions of competition suffer from this ‘tilt towards the market’ as the sole or primary dynamic force behind economic growth, to the exclusion or at least sidelining of complementary but at least equally significant dynamics within the realm of production, such as capital accumulation. After all, to put it at its weakest, competition may

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The evolution of the UK software market

Scale of demand and the role of competences

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Suma S. Athreye

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 emergence of the software market took two forms: outsourcing by large firms to independent software consultancies; and the emergence of a package software sector comprising genuinely independent producers of ‘commodity’ software. In the UK, the demand side of the newly emerging software market was always scale constrained, though less so than for other European countries

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Between markets, firms and networks

Constituting the cultural economy

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Fran Tonkiss

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

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Open systems and regional innovation

The resurgence of Route 128 in Massachusetts

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Michael H. Best

in the form of broad and deep networks of operational, technological and scientific researchers which cut across companies and universities. Silicon Valley project teams are continual combining and re-combining across a population of 6,000 high-tech firms, making it an unparalleled information and communication technology industrial district.19 The core of the innovation process in this model is the fillip given to new product development (NPD) by the differentiation and integration process (see figure 9.1). Firms under strong competitive pressure and in demanding

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Stan Metcalfe and Alan Warde

9 Conclusion 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

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Jonathan Michie

with BSkyB rather than with BSkyB’s competitors. In addition to representing a distortion of the competitive process to the detriment of other broadcasting companies, such a situation could also have posed an anti-competitive threat to other football clubs in the Premiership (and might in addition have had a deleterious effect on clubs outside the Premiership). If the merger had gone ahead and the Restrictive Practices Court had ended the current bargaining arrangements, then other broadcasters would have been at a competitive disadvantage vis à vis BSkyB in

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Stan Metcalfe and Alan Warde

1 Introduction 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

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Don Slater

–destabilisation are understood and reflexively incorporated into social and economic action. What is ‘new’ today, I want to suggest, concerns the extent to which the process of materialisation, and hence the dynamics of stability–destabilisation of objects, has become reflexively institutionalised and instrumentalised as a premiss of economic action and organisation. We can re-describe vast areas of corporate and consumer behaviour in terms of the opening and closing of black boxes in the interests of either competitive gain or cultural reproduction. Put this way, we open up the

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Brian J. Loasby

developing procedures which enable us to make new combinations from the results of that division. Market institutions not only release cognitive resources for the development of both consumer and organisational capital and therefore of new consumer demands and new productive opportunities which create new contexts for competition: particular institutional structures will encourage these developments to take particular forms. A study of the competitive process requires a study of the institutions within which it is channelled, and also of attempts to modify those