By Leslie Hannah
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Extra resources for Concentration in Modern Industry: Theory, measurement and the U. K. experience
THE ORIGINS OF MONOPOLY PROFITS If we accept that high profit rates and high concentration are found together, some problems of interpretation remain. It is possible that large market shares confer monopoly power on firms with no other special advantages: it is also likely that some firms possess particular capabilities or technologies which enable them to achieve both market dominance and above-average profits so that the latter simply represent the deserved rewards of superior performance. Thus Kelloggs and Kodak defended their position before the Monopolies Commission by arguing~ with some justice- that they made nicer cornflakes and better colour film than their competitors.
Of course senior managers in large plants- spurred on by trade union pressure and by the need to prevent the scale effect impairing their overall efficiency- have been concerned to alleviate the harsher aspects of the work experience in large plants, and without the new techniques of supervision and representation which have been developed it is possible that employee dissatisfaction would have been even higher. Shorey (1975) suggests that although large plants are associated with greater susceptibility to strikes the greater development of personnel functions in large organisations implies that (for given establishment size) increase in enterprise size reduces strike activity- though his empirical evidence is indecisive.
Decisive tests to discriminate between benign and malignant concentration are therefore hard to find and we can do no more than suggest some other snippets of evidence. If technical superiority is the normal route to large size, then we should expect to find some general tendency for large firms to earn higher profit rates than small, whether we look at concentrated or unconcentrated industries. S. K. they do not (Samuels and Smyth 1968; Singh and Whittington 1968). S. multinationals whose especial capabilities may earn them high profits in both countries.