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Conventions and Structures in Economic Organization

Markets, Networks and Hierarchies

Edited by Olivier Favereau and Emmanuel Lazega

This book contributes to the current rapprochement between economics and sociology. It examines the fact that individuals use rules and interdependencies to forward their own interests, while living in social environments where everyone does the same. The authors argue that to construct durable organizations and viable markets, they need to be able to handle both. However, thus far, economists and sociologists have not been able to reconcile the relationship between these two types of constraints on economic activity.
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Chapter 9: Market profiles: a tool suited to quality orders? An empirical analysis of road haulage and the theatre

Markets, Networks and Hierarchies

Olivier Biencourt and Daniel Urrutiaguer


Olivier Biencourt and Daniel Urrutiaguer INTRODUCTION If there is an object that has retained economists’ attention it is certainly the market. Walras established its importance in his lengthy and detailed description and formalization of the stock exchange. It is almost as if this mode of coordination, a subject of controversy among classical authors, had not already been at the centre of Adam Smith’s reflection. In any event, the organizational dimension was totally overlooked since it was only in the 1970s that other mechanisms of coordination emerged alongside the market. Since then there has been a strong focus on organization studies in economics: rules replace prices, whether these are contract rules (as in the theory of contracts) or convention rules. Although the market is always there, it is not necessarily a meeting place but perhaps rather an area of competition between firms trying to distinguish themselves. That is the case, in particular, of the goods market, which Favereau (1989) qualifies as the organizations market. A new variable therefore has to be taken into account: the quality of products. As early as 1943, Schumpeter highlighted the impact of quality on forms of competition. More recently, understanding of the product market has been enhanced by studies from sociology and, more precisely, the sociology of economics. The aim of this discipline is to elucidate the objects of economics – of which the market is one – by means of sociological tools. The work of White (1981) is an example. White presents the market as a social...

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