Structure of American Industry, The (11th Edition)

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9780131432734: Structure of American Industry, The (11th Edition)

This widely used industry casebook offers the leading “real-world” survey of contemporary American industries. Providing a sound new treatment of the role of public policy in a free enterprise economy, the book illustrates the broadest possible range of American market structures through a series of carefully chosen and well-developed case studies of specific industries, all written by leading authorities in their field. Featured industries include accounting/auditing, agriculture, petroleum, automobiles, cigarettes, beer, commercial banking, music recording, health care; airlines; telecommunications; and college sports. For individuals interested in industrial organization, public policy toward business, trade regulation, and regulation of industry.

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About the Author:

James W. Brock is Moeckel Professor of Economics at Miami University (Ohio). He is the author of a number of books and articles on industrial organization and public policy, and has testified before various congressional committees on antitrust issues.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Each day our lives intersect with major industries that comprise the American economy—from the agriculture that provides our food and the petroleum industry that supplies our gasoline, to the banks through which we conduct our financial affairs, the telecommunications we rely on, the beer that we (of legal age) imbibe, the acrid second-hand cigarette smoke we inhale, and the college sports that thrill us.

Individual industries also raise public policy challenges that are front-burner issues: accounting fraud that misrepresents the financial health of firms and bilks investors of billions; the exploding cost of health care; geopolitical events in Iraq, Venezuela, and elsewhere that trigger spikes in gasoline prices; the price and security of airline travel; the recording industry's relentless pursuit of those who download music; and concerns about global warming and fuel consumption in an automotive age of sport utility vehicles.

These issues, in turn, raise a host of economic questions: How are these industries individually organized and structured? What is their history? Who are their major producers and providers, and what market shares do they account for? What is the nature of competition in each of these fields, and how effective is it as a regulator of economic decision making? How well do these industries perform in terms of efficiency, innovativeness, and the allocation of resources? What are the major public policy issues in these fields, and what options are available for addressing them?

Unfortunately, these questions raise considerable interest, but economic treatments of them typically focus on putting theoretical expositions first, so that understanding of the industries themselves is haphazard and disjointed, with a glimpse of one here and a side glance at another there but no coherent understanding of an individual industry in its entirety.

Eleven editions of this book have been published to address this imbalance by treating each selected industry in a comprehensive way as an organic whole. Each edition has sought to invert the conventional economic-analytic paradigm by putting the industry front and center in order to provide a panoramic portrait. Methodologically, it is as much an exercise in induction—reasoning from the particular to the general—as it is a deductive process of deriving reality a priori from abstract postulates and assumptions. The approach, as Walton Hamilton put it in his classic Price and Price Policies, "is that of every day, of experience, of finding out"—of proceeding "by way of sample and type, of incident and detail"—based on the premise that "as a temptation to human curiosity industry can have few rivals." Each edition of this book also has striven to be fresh, with thorough updates of industries continued from preceding editions, and with new industries added to reflect changing contemporary interests and issues.

This latest edition once more offers a kaleidoscopic collection of individual industry studies that, it is hoped, readers will find useful for analyzing and understanding major industries in the American economy. Each chapter, written by an expert in the field, continues to offer a "live" laboratory for clinical examination and comparative analysis, as well as for evaluating public policies and options. The collection thus continues to serve as a useful supplement, if not a necessary antidote, to the economist's penchant for the abstractions of theoretical model-building.

In assembling this issue, the editor is appreciative for the contributors' conscientiousness in comprehensively and engagingly addressing their fields; for the production and marketing efforts of Gladys Soto, Jen Welsch, and their colleagues at Prentice Hall and BookMasters; and, especially, for Professor Pauline Adams's willingness to permit the book to continue to be published as a jointly-edited product—something it is hoped will be meaningful for the contributors, adopters, and readers who knew, worked with, and learned from Walter Adams.

James W Brock
Oxford, Ohio
May 2004

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