Does Competition Matter? An Attempt of Analytical 'Unbundling' of Competition from Consumer Welfare
University of Stirling, School of Law
Yearbook of Antitrust and Regulatory Studies, Vol. 2, No. 2, 2009
This paper is an attempt to evaluate the conceptual relationship between two central elements of the theory of antitrust: competition and consumer welfare. These two notions are analysed in their mutual dependency. The main purpose of this paper is to show that both competition and consumer welfare are economic values of fundamental importance with no ex ante hierarchical dominance of consumer welfare over competition. In case of conflict, priority might be given to either of these values depending on the context of the assessment. As can be understood from the very etymology of the term, competition is a notion which encompasses a process, more than a result. The notion of consumer welfare, on the other hand, is result-oriented. If we are interested in the outcomes that can be generated by competition only, then the very process of rivalry between undertakings would be seen as unnecessary or, at least, not indispensable. If, however, we consider that competition (seen as a process) is important for the societal paradigm of economic development, then the outcomes generated by this process are not the only reason for the rivalry between undertakings to exist. Methodologically, the latter approach appears to be more consistent with the idea of liberal democracy.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 16
Keywords: goals of competition law, competition and liberal democracy, rule of reason vs. rule of form
JEL Classification: L4
Date posted: July 10, 2010