Modern economic theory states that market power is “the ability of firms to influence the price of the product or products they sell” (Martin 1989, 16). This is our contemporary definition. But what do we know about the history of the definition of this notion? The purpose of this paper is to develop an inquiry into the economists’ ideas on the causes of market power starting from the writings of two Italian marginalists: Antonio De Viti de Marco (1858-1943) and Maffeo Pantaleoni (1857-1924). The analysis of the sources of market power taken into consideration by the two economists will be conducted here through an investigation of the kind of entry barriers they took into account, the role they attributed to the number of firms present in the market, and their ideas on potential competition.
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