Theoretical Economics, Vol. 13 (2018), 485–504.

20 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2015 Last revised: 24 May 2023

See all articles by Christopher P. Chambers

Christopher P. Chambers

Georgetown University - Department of Economics

Alan D. Miller

Faculty of Law, Western University

Date Written: October 13, 2017


We introduce a theory of ranking sets of accomplishments in the presence of objectively incomparable marginal contributions (apples and oranges). Our theory recommends benchmarking, a method under which an individual is deemed more accomplished than another if and only if she has achieved more benchmarks, or important accomplishments. We show that benchmark rules are characterized by four axioms: transitivity, monotonicity, incomparability of marginal gains, and incomparability of marginal losses. The latter two properties are local, and hence we endogenously derive a concept of a global, objective good, which we call a benchmark.

Keywords: Benchmarking, Axioms, Measurement, Apples and Oranges, Incompleteness, Closure Operator, Homomorphisms

JEL Classification: A10, C71, D63

Suggested Citation

Chambers, Christopher P. and Miller, Alan D., Benchmarking (October 13, 2017). Theoretical Economics, Vol. 13 (2018), 485–504., Available at SSRN: or

Christopher P. Chambers

Georgetown University - Department of Economics ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

Alan D. Miller (Contact Author)

Faculty of Law, Western University ( email )

1151 Richmond Street
London, Ontario N6A3K7


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