Schumpeter v. Brandeis v. Chicago: The Antitrust Debate of Our Times


June 15, 2021

Antitrust is at a crossroads. The escalating techlash has brought to the fore antitrust reformers who want to reinvigorate the antimonopoly crusade of early twentieth century Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, for whom a firm’s size was a sure sign of its character. These self-proclaimed “Neo-Brandeisians” challenge the prevailing view of competition law that has long been dominated by the Chicago School, which holds up consumer welfare as its North Star and uses prices as a key navigational instrument. But while Neo-Brandeisians and Chicagoans disagree on the need to reform antitrust policy, neither places adequate emphasis on innovation. Both sides err on that critical point. As economist Joseph Schumpeter has articulated, disruptive innovation increasingly characterizes our economy. The process of what he called “creative destruction” also shapes competitive constraints. Therefore, innovation needs to be at the center of a new, dynamic approach to antitrust.

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) recently launched the Schumpeter Project on Competition Policy in the Innovation Economy. David Teece joined an expert panel to discuss the ITIF report Principles of Dynamic Antitrust: Competing Through Innovation, which outlines a set of guiding principles for “dynamic antitrust.”

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David J. Teece

Executive Chairman

San Francisco Bay Area