Looking at alternatives to competitive funding pots

Could the resources invested in failed bids, added to the immense resources needed to assess them, be utilised more effectively, asks Abdool Kara.

There are two main drivers of our modern belief in the benefits of competition. Firstly, Darwin's theory of evolution, which gave us the famous phrase ‘survival of the fittest'. Secondly, the idea from neoclassical economics that competitive free markets deliver the most effective outcomes.

However, both cases are commonly misinterpreted and misrepresented. In the Darwinian example, ‘fittest' doesn't mean most athletic and vigorous, as we might understand it today. Instead, it means something best adapted to its immediate environment. In neoclassical economics, the theory is only correct under certain assumptions about market conditions, eg costless entry and exit, and buyers and sellers having perfect information, that are never actually true in practice.

Abdool Kara

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