This timely book surveys and illuminates the recent literature on industrial organization by contrasting the analyses based on the idea of "natural" adaptation of industry to environmental conditions and those that focus on the "strategic" dimension and manipulation of environment. Among the topics dealt with are the sociobiology of economic organizations and such allied issues as evolutionary economics, natural selection, and adaptation; game-theoretic models of strategic behavior; and the social, political, and legal implications of industrial policy.
In the introduction, Jacquemin discusses and compares the features of classical industrial organization and those of the "new industrial organization." The first chapter - on market selection processes - sounds the book's keynote. It blends traditional themes such as long-run competitive equilibrium and Darwinian economic selection with recent research on contestable markets and equilibrium in imperfectly competitive industries. It also sharply contrasts the views of the natural selection theory and the maximization process on the one hand, with those of the new industrial organization and strategic behavior, on the other.
Other chapters deal with oligopoly, concentration, and market power; with barriers to entry, both natural and strategic; with open problems in organization theory (a treatment that blends Williamson's transactions-costs concept with analytical modes to explain the divisionalization of the modern corporation, including Japanese firms); and with intersections of industrial policy and social theory. The last chapter discusses broad social issues, relating such diverse topics as Japanese industrial policy (MITI), Hirschman's "Exit, Voice, and Loyalty," and the writings of Rawls and Nozick.
Alexis Jacquemin directs the Centre for Economic and Legal Research in Industrial Organization in the Department of Economics at the Université Catholique de Louvain in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.