Innovation and Antitrust: An Evolutionary and Historical Perspective

By Thomas Jeffrey Horton, University of South Dakota, School of Law.

Throughout the history of the United States, the importance of innovation to economic growth has been well-recognized, and the role of market economics and antitrust law, in addition to patent laws, are critical to fostering innovation. This paper examines the theories of mid-20th century economist Joseph Schumpeter, who proposed that policies favoring large firms and monopoly structures best promote innovation. In this paper, Schumpeter’s theories are viewed through lenses of economic theory, history, and evolutionary biology. In viewing innovation through this interdisciplinary approach, the author shows that, in contrast to Schumpeter’s thesis, innovation is, in fact, driven by robust horizontal competition, with dominant actors playing a smaller role. As such, the author argues that U.S. antitrust law should be enforced with the goal of promoting modest concentration and fostering a competitive marketplace, so as to best achieve innovation and economic growth.

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