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Monopoly of Indian Railways : IIM Case Study
In economics, a monopoly (from the Latin word monopolium – Greek language monos, one + polein, to sell) is defined as a persistent market situation where there is only one provider of a product or service. Monopolies are characterized by a lack of economic competition for the good or service that they provide and a lack of viable substitute goods.
Monopoly should be distinguished from monopsony, in which there is only one buyer of the product or service; it should also, strictly, be distinguished from the (similar) phenomenon of a cartel. In a monopoly a single firm is the sole provider of a product or service; in a cartel a centralized institution is set up to partially coordinate the actions of several independent providers (which is a form of oligopoly).
Primary characteristics of a monopoly
- Single Sellers
A pure monopoly is an industry in which a single firm is the sole producer of a good or the sole provider of a service. This is usually caused by barriers to entry.
- No Close Substitutes
The product or service is unique in ways which go beyond brand identity, and cannot be easily replaced (a monopoly on water from a certain spring, sold under a certain brand name, is not a true monopoly; neither is Coca-Cola, even though it is differentiated from its competition in flavor).
- Price Maker
In a pure monopoly a single firm controls the total supply of the whole industry and is able to exert a significant degree of control over the price, by changing the quantity supplied (an example of this would be the situation of Viagra before competing drugs emerged). In subtotal monopolies (for example diamonds or petroleum at present) a single organization controls enough of the supply that even if it limits the quantity, or raises prices, the other suppliers will be unable to make up the difference and take significant amounts of market share.
- Blocked Entry
The reason a pure monopolist has no competitors is that certain barriers keep would-be competitors from entering the market. Depending upon the form of the monopoly these barriers can be economic, technological, legal (e.g. copyrights, patents), violent (competing businesses are shut down by force), or of some other type of barrier that completely prevents other firms from entering the market.
Price setting for unregulated monopolies
In economics a company is said to have monopoly power if it
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