Comparative Industrial Systems: Industry under Capitalism, by Trevor Buck

By Trevor Buck

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Meanwhile, this section remains finnly within 'the neoclassical analysis, the land of the margin' (Solow, 1956, p. 66), to consider alternatives to profit as arguments in the objective function of the controllers of finns. With each of these alternatives it should be remembered that they share with earlier neoclassical theory the assumption that finns can estimate with certainty the effects of marginal actions in order to achieve equilibrium. It should also be noted that profit still plays a considerable role in each theory.

889) at the expense of those who do not. Only a theory of surviving firms is therefore claimed to be relevant and 'unless the behaviour of businessmen in some way or other approximates behaviour consistent with the maximisation of returns, it seems unlikely that they would remain in business for long' (Friedman, 1953, p. 22). 1 above) but weaker, almost behavioural, variations still deserve consideration. g. mark-up pricing), evolutionary theories of the firm (Winter, 1964, pp. 893). Natural Selection theory has now come a long way from profit maximisation.

Second, neoclassicists have retreated to the sanctuary of the maximisation of the present value of long-run profit as an alternative assumption for firms. As with the assumption of utility maximisation for individual consumers, however, this device enables one to rationalise any conceivable action as being consistent with the assumed objective, which remains absolutely untestable. 4) would claim that, although some firms do make decisions that are not optimal in the ex ante profitmaximising sense, the competitive process will only select consistent profit-maximisers for survival.

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