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Abstract

Discusses concepts of competition in economics and ecology and the relevance of evolution to both subjects. It is suggested that although speciation or increasing biodiversity tends to occur in undisturbed ecological systems, the opposite trend may occur in economic systems. Competition based on optimisation plays a significant role in theories of the evolution of species and some theories of the evolution of business or industrial structures. But evolution does not result in optimal selection of species or businesses for the future, and there is scope for doubt about what is being optimised by survivors in the evolutionary process. Ecological or biological theories of intra-specific competition involving scramble and contest competition are outlined and economic analogies are identified. It is argued that heterogeneity or diversity of individuals within a population of competing members has important implications for the sustainability or stability of populations involved in these types of competition. Comparisons are made between the survival of new industries and the probability of survival of populations of species.

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