Ronald Noë

Professor, Psychology,
Université de Strasbourg, France

What makes mutualisms markets?

Smithsonian Image

Comparing mutualisms, and cooperative relations in general, to interactions between traders on markets only makes sense if the market paradigm guides us towards questions, hypotheses and explanations that might otherwise not have come to mind. When do mutualisms have enough of the salient characteristics of markets, such as choice among partners, outbidding competition over partners, adaptation to changes in the supply and/or demand of commodities (goods and services) and so forth, to make biological market theory worth considering? Is the market still useful as paradigm when some features that are typical for human trading, such as binding contracts and common currencies, do not have their biological equivalent? And finally, should we also follow economics in recognizing the biological equivalent of the dichotomy between markets and firms?

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