June, 2014

Form vs. Substance in Selection Through Competition: Elections, Markets, and Political Economy

  • Richard Wagner

    Distinguished Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics and Economics
  • Dima Yazji Shamoun

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Any competitive process selects among qualities possessed by the competitors, and with different processes selecting for different qualities. While the competitive form is universal, the substantive qualities that are selected depend on the particular environment within which competition occurs. With respect to athletic competition, for instance, diving selects for different qualities than swimming: a champion diver need not be a champion swimmer. Markets and politics are both forms of competitive endeavor, and it is reasonable to think that competition will select for excellence within each environment. This purely formal property of competition, however, generates different substantive qualities across environments, as we explore in this paper.

Find the article at Springer Link.