On the optimality of the competitive process: Kimura's theorem and market dynamics

J. Stanley Metcalfe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper considers the optimality properties of a market economy in terms of three propositions that evaluate the outcomes of and the process of competition between a population of firms working within a given economic environment. We show that when firms differ in more than one competitive characteristic then competition does not select in general the most efficient firm nor does it always result in increases in the average efficiency with which resources are utilized. Drawing upon a theorem of Kimura, however, we show that competition has the property of maximizing the rate of change of the average selective characteristics in the population. We conclude that a more nuanced appraisal of the institutions of the competitive process is surely necessary. From an evolutionary standpoint, the outcomes of competition are always contingent on the nature of the selection environment and the characteristics of the whole population of firms that are being selected.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-133
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Bioeconomics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Competition
  • Efficiency
  • Evolution
  • Growth
  • Optimality


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