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Literal interpretation of the term "monopoly" implies a single seller, or one entity selling one or more products for which there are no substitutions. If we take the term literally, every firm becomes a monopoly because it acts on its own for its own interests. Even if two firms merge, the merger then becomes one monopoly-one firm, a single seller. The true monopoly must "restrict output because of a divergence between marginal benefit as the firm perceives it and marginal benefit as buyers perceive it". It must operate at that level which optimally benefits its own interests.
Considering that goods do have substitutes, however, changes the way we must view availability as it relates to marginal benefits and product mix efficiency. Firms accused of monopoly, such as Microsoft, may be in a position of being the only provider of a product, but as long as consumers are still willing to select other products rather than the one provided by the "monopoly," competition still exists, and the product can be seen as one in a cluster of product mixtures, rather than as a sole product. Thus, a pure monopoly would be absolutely rare.
A monopoly exists when a market evolves to consist of but a single supplier who has exclusive power to sell a business or provide a service within that market. While additional suppliers may exist alongside a monopoly, they are typically very small niche players. Monopolies may be one of the following:
- A regional monopoly: Such as is typical of public transportation services
- Global monopoly - For example, Microsoft has a global monopoly over desktop operating systems. However, although Microsoft is clearly a monopoly, several small niche players continue to exist alongside it - e.g. Apple, Amiga, etc.
A research paper is an in-depth examination of a Monopoly. More than just an overview of what was learned on a Monopoly, like a term paper is, a research paper contains analysis of a Monopoly along the lines of organizational theory and relevant published material. Research papers are highly analytical and can often be more than 8 to 10 pages. The key to a good research project is the examination of recently published journal articles and peer-reviewed material on the Monopoly chosen. Like the name implies, research papers are exactly that, a paper that examines the information that can be found on a Monopoly.