The world of economics is a complicated and messy place. Yet modern economic analysis rests on an attempt to represent the world by means of simple mathematical models. To what extent is this possible? How can such a program cope with the fact that economic outcomes are often driven by factors that are notoriously difficult to quantify? Can such mathematical modeling lead us to theories that work? In these lectures, John Sutton explores what he calls the "standard paradigm" that lies at the heart of economic model building, whose roots go back a century to the work of Alfred Marshall.
Traditionally, the field of industrial organization has relied on two unrelated theories--the cross-section theory and the growth-of-firms theory--to explain cross-industry differences in concentration and within-industry skewness. The two approaches are based on very different mathematical structures and few researchers have attempted to relate them to each other.In this book, John Sutton unifies the two approaches through a theory that rests on three simple principles.
Sunk Costs and Market Structure bridges the gap between the new generation of game theoretic models that has dominated the industrial organization literature over the past ten years and the traditional empirical agenda of the subject as embodied in the structure-conduct-performance paradigm developed by Joe S. Bain and his successors.The new theoretical literature has engendered pessimism in recent years because many results turn out to depend on detailed features of the market that are difficult to measure.