Competition


Competition
A selection of images showing some of the sporting events that are classed as athletics competitions

Competition is a contest between individuals, groups, animals, etc. for territory, a niche, or a location of resources. It arises whenever two or more parties strive for a goal which cannot be shared. Competition occurs naturally between living organisms which co-exist in the same environment. For example, animals compete over water supplies, food, mates, and other biological resources. Humans compete for water, food, and mates, though when these needs are met deep rivalries often arise over the pursuit of wealth, prestige, and fame. Business is often associated with competition as most companies are in competition with at least one other firm over the same group of customers.

Contents

Recorded history of competition

The written historical record demonstrates propensity of human males to engage physical competition is genetically programmed reproductive behavior[dubious ]. Competition sports were, as ancient literature records, originally employed as an alternative to war between sovereign states populated by citizens of similar racial heritage, or as a means of resolving blood feuds. Dueling was one such competition, but it was forbidden by The Roman Catholic Church and was consequently banned. In ancient Greco-Roman civilization, warrior skill was a matter of dignity and self-respect. In several discrete instances, members of Roman nobility became incensed by some grave injustice, and though these men were advanced in years, to prove the gravity of the offense, abandoned home and family, in favor of leading an army into battle against the aggressor. These old and respected men were feeble in comparison to young soldiers, so they gave their lives as testimony against injustice, which in turn spurred the people on to pursue the cause.

Through refinement and application of symbolic reverence, competition in medieval Western civilization was encouraged in academics, trades and crafts, becoming a key component driving the full exploitation of human potential and excellence. [1][2][3]

Consequences

Competition can have both beneficial and detrimental effects. Many evolutionary biologists view inter-species and intra-species competition as the driving force of adaptation, and ultimately of evolution. However, some biologists, most famously Richard Dawkins, prefer to think of evolution in terms of competition between single genes, which have the welfare of the organism 'in mind' only insofar as that welfare furthers their own selfish drives for replication. Some social darwinists claim that competition also serves as a mechanism for determining the best-suited group; politically, economically and ecologically. On the negative side, competition can cause injury and loss to the organisms involved, and drain valuable resources and energy. In the human species competition can be expensive on many levels, not only in lives lost to war, physical injuries, and damaged phychological well beings, but also in the health effects from everyday civilian life caused by work stress, long work hours, abusive working relationships, and poor working conditions, that detract from the enjoyment of life, even as such competition results in financial gain.

Economics and business

Merriam-Webster defines competition in business as "the effort of two or more parties acting independently to secure the business of a third party by offering the most favorable terms".[4] It was described by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations (1776) and later economists as allocating productive resources to their most highly-valued uses.[5] and encouraging efficiency. Later microeconomic theory distinguished between perfect competition and imperfect competition, concluding that no system of resource allocation is more efficient than perfect competition. Competition, according to the theory, causes commercial firms to develop new products, services and technologies, which would give consumers greater selection and better products. The greater selection typically causes lower prices for the products, compared to what the price would be if there was no competition (monopoly) or little competition (oligopoly).

However, competition may also lead to wasted (duplicated) effort and to increased costs (and prices) in some circumstances. For example, the intense competition for the small number of top jobs in music and movie acting leads many aspiring musicians and actors to make substantial investments in training which are not recouped, because only a fraction become successful. Critics have also argued that competition can be destabilizing, particularly competition between certain financial institutions.[6]

Three levels of economic competition have been classified:

  • The most narrow form is direct competition (also called category competition or brand competition), where products which perform the same function compete against each other. For example, one brand of pick-up trucks competes with several other brands of pick-up trucks. Sometimes, two companies are rivals and one adds new products to their line, which leads to the other company distributing the same new things, and in this manner they compete.
  • The next form is substitute or indirect competition, where products which are close substitutes for one another compete. For example, butter competes with margarine, mayonnaise and other various sauces and spreads.
  • The broadest form of competition is typically called budget competition. Included in this category is anything on which the consumer might want to spend their available money. For example, a family which has $20,000 available may choose to spend it on many different items, which can all be seen as competing with each other for the family's expenditure. This form of competition is also sometimes described as a competition of "share of wallet".

In addition, companies also compete for financing on the capital markets (equity or debt) in order to generate the necessary cash for their operations. An investor typically will consider alternative investment opportunities given his risk profile and not only look at companies just competing on product (direct competitors). Enlarging the investment universe to include indirect competitors leads to a broader peer universe of comparable, indirectly competing companies.

Competition does not necessarily have to be between companies. For example, business writers sometimes refer to internal competition. This is competition within companies. The idea was first introduced by Alfred Sloan at General Motors in the 1920s. Sloan deliberately created areas of overlap between divisions of the company so that each division would be competing with the other divisions. For example, the Chevy division would compete with the Pontiac division for some market segments. Also, in 1931, Procter & Gamble initiated a deliberate system of internal brand-versus-brand rivalry. The company was organized around different brands, with each brand allocated resources, including a dedicated group of employees willing to champion the brand. Each brand manager was given responsibility for the success or failure of the brand, and compensated accordingly. This is known as intra-brand competition.

Finally, most businesses also encourage competition between individual employees. An example of this is a contest between sales representatives. The sales representative with the highest sales (or the best improvement in sales) over a period of time would gain benefits from the employer.

Shalev and Asbjornsen also found that success (i.e. the saving resulted) of reverse auctions correlated most closely with competition. The literature widely supported the importance of competition as the primary driver of reverse auctions success.[7] Their findings appear to support that argument, as competition correlated strongly with the reverse auction success, as well as with the number of bidders.[8]

It should also be noted that business and economic competition in most countries is often limited or restricted. Competition often is subject to legal restrictions. For example, competition may be legally prohibited, as in the case with a government monopoly or a government-granted monopoly. Tariffs, subsidies or other protectionist measures may also be instituted by government in order to prevent or reduce competition. Depending on the respective economic policy, pure competition is to a greater or lesser extent regulated by competition policy and competition law. Another component of these activities is the discovery process, with instances of higher government regulations typically leading to less competitive businesses being launched.[9]

Competition between countries is quite subtle to detect, but is quite evident in the world economy. Countries compete to provide the best possible business environment for multinational corporations. Such competition is evident by the policies undertaken by these countries to educate the future workforce. For example, East Asian economies such as Singapore, Japan and South Korea tend to emphasize education by allocating a large portion of the budget to this sector, and by implementing programmes such as gifted education.

Law

The Department of Justice building in Washington, D.C. is home to the influential antitrust enforcers of U.S. competition laws

Competition law, known in the United States as antitrust law, has three main functions. Firstly, it prohibits agreements aimed to restrict free trading between business entities and their customers. For example, a cartel of sports shops who together fix football jersey prices higher than normal is illegal.[10] Secondly, competition law can ban the existence or abusive behaviour of a firm dominating the market. One case in point could be a software company who through its monopoly on computer platforms makes consumers use its media player.[11] Thirdly, to preserve competitive markets, the law supervises the mergers and acquisitions of very large corporations. Competition authorities could for instance require that a large packaging company give plastic bottle licenses to competitors before taking over a major PET producer.[12] In this case (as in all three), competition law aims to protect the welfare of consumers by ensuring business must compete for its share of the market economy.

In recent decades, competition law has also been sold as good medicine to provide better public services, traditionally funded by tax payers and administered by democratically accountable governments. Hence competition law is closely connected with the law on deregulation of access to markets, providing state aids and subsidies, the privatisation of state-owned assets and the use of independent sector regulators, such as the United Kingdom telecommunications watchdog Ofcom. Behind the practice lies the theory, which over the last fifty years has been dominated by neo-classical economics. Markets are seen as the most efficient method of allocating resources, although sometimes they fail, and regulation becomes necessary to protect the ideal market model. Behind the theory lies the history, reaching back further than the Roman Empire. The business practices of market traders, guilds and governments have always been subject to scrutiny and sometimes severe sanctions. Since the twentieth century, competition law has become global. The two largest, most organised and influential systems of competition regulation are United States antitrust law and European Community competition law. The respective national authorities, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States and the European Commission's Competition Directorate General (DGCOMP) have formed international support and enforcement networks. Competition law is growing in importance every day, which warrants for its careful study.

Politics

Competition is also found in politics. In democracies, an election is a competition for an elected office. In other words, two or more candidates strive and compete against one another to attain a position of power. The winner gains the seat of the elected office for a predefined period of time, towards the end of which another election is usually held to determine the next holder of the office.

In addition, there is inevitable competition inside a government. Because several offices are appointed, potential candidates compete against the others in order to gain the particular office. Departments may also compete for a limited amount of resources, such as for funding. Finally, where there are party systems, elected leaders of different parties will ultimately compete against the other parties for laws, funding and power.

Finally, competition also exists between governments. Each country or nationality struggles for world dominance, power, or military strength. For example, the United States competed against the Soviet Union in the Cold War for world power, and the two also struggled over the different types of government (in these cases representative democracy and communism). The result of this type of competition often leads to worldwide tensions, and may sometimes erupt into warfare.

Sports

The USOC's headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Olympic Games are regarded as the international pinnacle of sports competition.

While some sports (such as fishing or hiking) have been viewed as primarily recreational, most sports are considered competitive. The majority involve competition between two or more persons (sometimes using horses or cars). For example, in a game of basketball, two teams compete against one another to determine who can score the most points. While there is no set reward for the winning team, many players gain a sense of pride. In addition, extrinsic rewards may also be given. Athletes, besides competing against other humans, also compete against nature in sports such as whitewater kayaking or mountaineering, where the goal is to reach a destination, with only natural barriers impeding the process. A regularly scheduled (for instance annual) competition meant to determine the "best" competitor of that cycle is called a championship.

Baseball is a competitive sport.

Professional sports, as well as the business of it, are intense and extremely competitive, while recreational sports are often less intense and found enjoyable by many, as well as cathartic. Yet psychological evidence has been found that the more aggressive sports result in increased aggressive behavior when the sport is not being played. For those attaining winning status, endorphins are released, often driving them, and in extreme cases, addicting them to increased levels of competition, dedication, and enjoyment of the sport. In the case of sports viewers, participating artificially, similar evidence was found.

Competitive sports are governed by codified rules agreed upon by the participants. Violating these rules is considered to be unfair competition. Thus, sports provide artificial (not natural) competition; for example, competing for control of a ball, or defending territory on a playing field is not an innate biological factor in humans. Athletes in sports such as gymnastics and competitive diving compete against each other in order to come closest to a conceptual ideal of a perfect performance, which incorporates measurable criteria and standards which are translated into numerical ratings and scores by appointed judges.

Sports competition is generally broken down into three categories: individual sports, such as archery; dual sports, such as doubles tennis, and team sports competition, such as cricket or football. While most sports competitions are recreation, there exist several major and minor professional sports leagues throughout the world. The Olympic Games, held every four years, is usually regarded as the international pinnacle of sports competition.

Education

Competition is a major factor in education. On a global scale, national education systems, intending to bring out the best in the next generation, encourage competitiveness among students through scholarships. Countries such as England and Singapore have special education programmes which cater for specialist students, prompting charges of academic elitism. Upon receipt of their academic results, students tend to compare their grades to see who is better. In severe cases, the pressure to perform in some countries is so high that it can result in stigmatization of intellectually deficient students, or even suicide as a consequence of failing the exams; Japan being a prime example (see Education in Japan). This has resulted in critical re-evaluation of examinations as a whole by educationalists[citation needed]. Critics of competition (as opposed to excellence) as a motivating factor in education systems, such as Alfie Kohn, assert that competition actually has a net negative influence on the achievement levels of students, and that it "turns all of us into losers" (Kohn 1986). Economist Richard Layard has commented on the harmful effects, stating "people feel that they are under a great deal of pressure. They feel that their main objective in life is to do better than other people. That is certainly what young people are being taught in school every day. And it's not a good basis for a society."[13]

Competitions also make up a large portion of extracurricular activities in which students participate. Such competitions include TVO's broadcast Reach for the Top competition, FIRST Robotics, Duke Annual Robo-Climb Competition (DARC) and the University of Toronto Space Design Contest. In Texas, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) has 22 High School-level contests and 18 elementary and Junior High in subjects ranging from accounting to science to ready writing.

Literature

Literary competitions, such as contests sponsored by literary journals, publishing houses and theaters, have increasingly become a means for aspiring writers to gain recognition. Prestigious awards for fiction include those sponsored by the Missouri Review, Boston Review, Indiana Review, North American Review and Southwest Review. The Albee Award, sponsored by the Yale Drama Series, is among the most prestigious playwriting awards. Some American writers, such as Gina Ochsner and Jacob Appel, have gained prominence specifically for their active participation in numerous literary competitions.[14]

Charging fees for literary competitions is extremely controversial. Some writers view fees as a form of exploitation that takes advantage of aspiring authors and playwrights. However, fee-based contests also have strong supporters who argue that these competitions offer rare opportunities for young writers to have their voices heard at a time when access to major agents and editors has grown increasingly limited.[15]

Biology and ecology

Competition within and between species is an important topic in biology, specifically in the field of ecology. Competition between members of a species ("intraspecific") is the driving force behind evolution and natural selection; the competition for resources such as food, water, territory, and sunlight results in the ultimate survival and dominance of the variant of the species best suited for survival. Competition is also present between species ("interspecific"). A limited amount of resources are available, and several species may depend on these resources. Thus, each of the species competes with the others to gain access to the resources. As a result, species less suited to compete for the resources must either adapt or die out. According to evolutionary theory, this competition within and between species for resources plays a critical role in natural selection. For example, a smaller tree will receive less sunlight than an adjacent tree which is larger than it in a rainforest. The larger tree is competing with the smaller one for the same sunlight. While competition has been observed between individuals, populations and species, there is little evidence that competition has been the driving force in the evolution of large groups. For example, between amphibians, reptiles, and mammals.[16]

The study of competition

Competition has been studied in several fields, including psychology, sociology and anthropology. Social psychologists, for instance, study the nature of competition. They investigate the natural urge of competition and its circumstances. They also study group dynamics, to detect how competition emerges and what its effects are. Sociologists, meanwhile, study the effects of competition on society as a whole. In addition, anthropologists study the history and prehistory of competition in various cultures. They also investigate how competition manifested itself in various cultural settings in the past, and how competition has developed over time.

Competitiveness

Many philosophers and psychologists have identified a trait in most living organisms which can drive the particular organism to compete. This trait, unsurprisingly called competitiveness, is viewed as an innate biological trait which coexists along with the urge for survival. Competitiveness, or the inclination to compete, though, has become synonymous with aggressiveness and ambition in the English language. More advanced civilizations integrate aggressiveness and competitiveness into their interactions, as a way to distribute resources and adapt. Most plants compete for higher spots on trees to receive more sunlight.

However, Stephen Jay Gould and others have argued that as one ascends the evolutionary hierarchy, competitiveness (the survival instinct) becomes less innate, and more a learned behavior.[citation needed] The same could be said for co-operation: in humans, at least, both co-operation and competition are considered learned behaviors, because the human species learns to adapt to environmental pressures. Consequently, if survival requires competitive behaviors, the individual will compete, and if survival requires co-operative behaviors, the individual will co-operate. In the case of humans, therefore, aggressiveness may be an innate characteristic, but a person need not be competitive at the same time, for instance when scaling a cliff. On the other hand, humans seem also to have a nurturing instinct, to protect newborns and the weak. While that does not necessitate co-operative behavior, it does help.

The term also applies to econometrics. Here, it is a comparative measure of the ability and performance of a firm or sub-sector to sell and produce/supply goods and/or services in a given market. The two academic bodies of thought on the assessment of competitiveness are the Structure Conduct Performance Paradigm and the more contemporary New Empirical Industrial Organisation model. Predicting changes in the competitiveness of business sectors is becoming an integral and explicit step in public policymaking. Within capitalist economic systems, the drive of enterprises is to maintain and improve their own competitiveness.

Hypercompetitiveness

The tendency toward extreme, unhealthy competition has been termed hypercompetitiveness. This concept originated in Karen Horney's theories on neurosis; specifically, the highly aggressive personality type which is characterized as "moving against people". In her view, some people have a need to compete and win at all costs as a means of maintaining their self-worth. These individuals are likely to turn any activity into a competition, and they will feel threatened if they find themselves losing. Researchers have found that men and women who score high on the trait of hypercompetitiveness are more narcissistic and less psychologically healthy than those who score low on the trait.[17] Hypercompetitive individuals generally believe that "winning isn't everything; it's the only thing".

See also

References

  1. ^ Plutarch ( Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans 75 AD)
  2. ^ Virgil (The Aeneid 19 BC)
  3. ^ Edward Gibbon ([[The History of The Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire 1781 AD)
  4. ^ m-w.com
  5. ^ George J. Stigler ([1987] 2008). "competition," The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. Abstract.
  6. ^ Michael Simkovic, Competition and Crisis in Mortgage Securitization
  7. ^ papers.ssrn.com
  8. ^ "Electronic revers auctions and the public sector - Factors of success". Journal of Public Procurement. Shalev Moshe and Asbjornsen Stee. p. 428-452. http://www.scribd.com/doc/39032383/Electronic-Reverse-Auction-and-the-Public-Sector-Factors-of-Success-Moshe-E-Shalev-Stee-Asbjorensen. 
  9. ^ Competition, Regulation, and the Market Process: An "Austrian" Perspective, Sept. 30, 1982 by Israel M. Kirzner
  10. ^ JJB Sports v OFT [2004] CAT 17
  11. ^ in the E.U. side of the saga, see Case T-201/04 Microsoft v. Commission Order, 22 December 2004
  12. ^ Case C-12/03 P, Commission v. Tetra Laval
  13. ^ Group dedicated to happiness launched in UK, BBC video, April 12, 2011
  14. ^ Bug Off, June 16, 2009
  15. ^ Appel, Jacob. The Case for Contests Poets & Writers, Jan/Feb 2009.
  16. ^ Sahney, S., Benton, M.J. and Ferry, P.A. (2010). "Links between global taxonomic diversity, ecological diversity and the expansion of vertebrates on land" (PDF). Biology Letters 6 (4): 544–547. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2009.1024. PMC 2936204. PMID 20106856. http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/6/4/544.full.pdf+html. 
  17. ^ Ryckman, R. M., Thornton, B., Butler, J. C. (1994). "Personality correlates of the hypercompetitive attitude scale: Validity tests of Horney's theory of neurosis". Journal of Personality Assessment 62: 84-94. http://www.leaonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/s15327752jpa6201_8?cookieSet=1&journalCode=jpa. 

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • compétition — [ kɔ̃petisjɔ̃ ] n. f. • 1759; angl. competition; bas lat. competitio 1 ♦ Recherche simultanée par deux ou plusieurs personnes d un même avantage, d un même résultat. ⇒ concours, concurrence, conflit, rivalité. « Les intérêts diffèrent, les… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Competition — Compétition Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom …   Wikipédia en Français

  • competition — I noun attempt to equal, bout, challenge, combat, conflict, contentio, contest, corrivalry, encounter, engagement, open contest, opposition, outrivalry, pitting of strength, pitting of wits, race, rivalry, scramble, strife, striving for… …   Law dictionary

  • Competition — Com pe*ti tion, n. [L. competition. See {Compete}.] The act of seeking, or endeavoring to gain, what another is endeavoring to gain at the same time; common strife for the same objects; strife for superiority; emulous contest; rivalry, as for… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • competition — [käm΄pə tish′ən] n. [L competitio] 1. the act of competing; rivalry 2. a contest, or match 3. official participation in organized sport 4. opposition, or effective opposition, in a contest or match 5. rivalry in business, as for customers or… …   English World dictionary

  • competition — competition. См. конкуренция. (Источник: «Англо русский толковый словарь генетических терминов». Арефьев В.А., Лисовенко Л.А., Москва: Изд во ВНИРО, 1995 г.) …   Молекулярная биология и генетика. Толковый словарь.

  • Competition — Competition, Hauptort der Grafschaft Pennsylvania im Staate Virginia der Vereinigten Staaten von Nordamerika, an einem Arm des Banister River, höchst fruchtbare Umgegend …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Competition — (engl., spr. kompitisch n), Wettbewerb; unfair c., »unlauterer Wettbewerb« (s.d.) …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • competition — competition, ecological …   Dictionary of sociology

  • competition — c.1600, action of competing, from L. competitionem (nom. competitio) agreement, rivalry, noun of action from competere (see COMPETE (Cf. compete)). Meaning a contest for something is from 1610s. Sense of rivalry in the marketplace attested from… …   Etymology dictionary

  • competition — [n] contest antagonism, athletic event, bout, candidacy, championship, clash, concours, contention, controversy, counteraction, dog eat dog*, do or die*, emulation, encounter, engagement, event, fight, game, go for it, go for the gold*, horse… …   New thesaurus


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