The Institutions of Antitrust Law: How Structure Shapes Substance
Daniel Crane’s The Institutional Structure of Antitrust Enforcement (“Institutional Structure”) may do for antitrust law what Essence of Decision did for public administration. Unlike most literature on antitrust law, this superb volume does not address pressing issues of substantive analysis (e.g., when can dominant firms offer loyalty discounts?). Instead, Institutional Structure studies the design and operation of the institutions of U.S. antitrust enforcement. Professor Crane skillfully advances a basic and powerful proposition: to master analytical principles without deep knowledge of the policy implementation mechanism is dangerously incomplete preparation for understanding the U.S. antitrust system, or any body of competition law. “Institutions,” Professor Crane observes, “are a critical and underappreciated driver of an antitrust policy that interacts in many subtle ways with substantive antitrust rules and decisions” (p. xi). Institutional Structure demonstrates that the causes of observed policy outcomes, good and bad, often reside in the institutional framework. Seemingly potent conceptual insights may fizzle, or create mischief, if the institutions that must apply them are deformed. Good policy results depend on the strength of what Allison called “the path between preferred solution and actual performance.” In the language of modern technology, one cannot deliver broadband-quality policy outcomes through dial-up institutions.