Economics and business
Merriam-Webster defines competition in business as "the effort of two or more parties acting independently to secure the business of a third party by offering the most favorable terms". It was described by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations (1776) and later economists as allocating productive resources to their most highly-valued uses. and encouraging efficiency. Later microeconomic theory distinguished between perfect competition and imperfect competition, concluding that no system of resource allocation is more efficient than perfect competition. Competition, according to the theory, causes commercial firms to develop new products, services and technologies, which would give consumers greater selection and better products. The greater selection typically causes lower prices for the products, compared to what the price would be if there was no competition (monopoly) or little competition (oligopoly). However, competition may also lead to wasted (duplicated) effort and to increased costs (and prices) in some circumstances. For example, the intense competition for the small number of top jobs in music and movie acting leads many aspiring musicians and actors to make substantial investments in training which are not recouped, because only a fraction become successful. Critics have also argued that competition can be destabilizing, particularly competition between certain financial institutions. Experts have also questioned the constructiveness of competition in profitability. It has been argued tha competition-oriented objectives are counterproductive to raising revenues and profitability because they limit the options of strategies for firms as well as their ability to offer innovative responses to changes in the market. In addition, the strong desire to defeat rival firms with competitive prices has the strong possibility of causing price wars. Three levels of economic competition have been classified: The most narrow form is direct competition (also called category competition or brand competition), where products which perform the same function compete against each other. For example, one brand of pick-up trucks competes with several other brands of pick-up trucks. Sometimes, two companies are rivals and one adds new products to their line, which leads to the other company distributing the same new things, and in this manner they compete. The next form is substitute or indirect competition, where products which are close substitutes for one another compete. For example, butter competes with margarine, mayonnaise and other various sauces and spreads. The broadest form of competition is typically called budget competition. Included in this category is anything on which the consumer might want to spend their available money. For example, a family which has $20,000 available may choose to spend it on many different items, which can all be seen as competing with each other for the family's expenditure. This form of competition is also sometimes described as a competition of "share of wallet".