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?
Economists have traditionally taken two very different approaches to studying market structure. One looks to "industry characteristics" to explain why different industries develop in different ways; the other looks to the pattern of firm growth within a "typical" industry to describe the evolution of the size distribution of firms. In his new book, John Sutton sets out a unified theory that encompasses both approaches, while generating a series of novel predictions as to how markets evolve.
Sunk Costs and Market Structure bridges the gap between the new generation of game theoretic models that has dominated the industrial organization literature recently and the traditional empirical agenda of the subject as embodied in the structure-conduct-performance paradigm developed by Joe S. Bain and his successors.