|Peter Bowbrick's Publications|
Peter Bowbrick is a consultant working in the real world. He produces and publishes new theory when there is no theory in the academic journals which can be applied to real world situations. He is not an academic. He does not publish to polish his academic status nor to achieve his academic production target. Nor does he publish everything six times in different words to maximize his publications (salami publishing, it is called.) He publishes when he has something important to say.
Ivory Tower economics starts with a tiny number of assumptions that bear no relation to the real world. They assume away anything that is difficult to analyse. It is easy to churn out papers from this, papers that have no practical application. Real world economics has assumptions that approximate to the real world. And the bits that are hardest to analyse, that one might like to assume away, are precisely the bits that matter.
Even though Peter is not an academic, academics respect his work. His papers are published in the academic journals, and a very high proportion of them, over 20%, have been used in university teaching.
A very high proportion of them are refutations. One refutation may discredit 100 routine papers, so these are particularly important.
And several are the rarest of all, classic papers that are still cited and used in university courses twenty or thirty years later.
Peter has published on
This page gives links to my books and papers on quality, so they can be downloaded.
Quality is fundamental to economics. It is fundamental to marketing. The old economists could talk about two commodities, corn and steel, as though they were totally homogeneous.
In today’s market this is absurd. Every product, whether it be a car or a computer or a pizza, has an enormous range of qualities. There are an enormous number of competing products within any category. Often two qualities of a same product, a Rolls Royce and a Mini for example, are not competing purchases as far as most consumers are concerned.
Most products sell on quality. Supermarkets and manufacturers compete on quality. And I am talking of quality as a marketing tool here, not ISO 9000, TQM, QA, etc. In economics and marketing we assume that management has sufficient cop on to produce the quality they aim for: the problem is that they usually aim for a quality that does not sell.
My book, The Economics of Quality, Grades and Brands, is the definitive book on the subject. It is concerned with quality, grades and brands in the real world, and with presenting a theory that can be used to analyse products and markets, and to make money. It brings together the best of the theory into a cohesive whole. And it leaves out a lot of ivory-tower theory that cannot be applied to the real world, that does not work if there are more than two quality characteristics, or if one is a variable like red, for instance.
“The Economics of Grades” is a classic, a paper that has been in use in universities for quarter of a century. There is no sign of anything replacing it.
“The Case against Minimum Standards”, is again a classic. It was seen as heretical when it was written and aroused enormous hostility from civil service quality units in particular. It is now accepted theory.
The Appraisal of the EEC Fruit and Vegetable Grading System is significant as the first application of hard theory, combined with evidence, and a deep understanding of the marketing system from producer to the supermarket shelf, to analyse a state-operated system of standards. It showed that the system was positively harmful to consumers and local producers, with the costs vastly higher than the administrative costs. Again this aroused enormous hostility from civil service quality units in particular. They resisted its conclusions and continued to waste money on a vast scale. The European Commission has now accepted my analysis in its entirety, and as passed legislation making major reforms in the system. The payoff to consumers in Britain alone is £1 Billion a year, and the payoff to consumers in the EU some £10 Billion. How I got the change is a story in itself. I got the EC to Change Policy
My refutation of Lancaster’s theory of quality is significant as his paper was one of the dozen most cited in economics. I showed that it is economically untenable. It is never used in practice – though people using very different approaches such as Waugh’s often cite Lancaster as the originator. Lancaster himself complained of this.
Bowbrick, P., The Economics of Quality, Grades and Brands, Routledge, London 1992.
Bowbrick, P., Limitations of Lancaster’s theory of Consumer Demand, PhD Thesis, Henley Management College, 1994.
Bowbrick, P., “The Economics of Grades”, Oxford Agrarian Studies. 11, 65-92. 1982.
Bowbrick, P., An Economic Appraisal of the EEC Fruit and Vegetable Grading System. Dublin. 1981.
Bowbrick, P., “The case against minimum standards”, Journal of Agricultural Economics. 28: 113-117, May. 1977.
Bowbrick, P., A critique of Economic Man Theories of Quality
Bowbrick, P., “Pseudo-research in marketing - the case of the price:perceived quality relationship”, European Journal of Marketing. 14(8) 466-70. 1980.
Bowbrick, P., A Bibliography on the Economics of Quality and Grades. Quality bibliography
Bowbrick, P., “A perverse price-quality relationship”, Irish Journal of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. 6 93-94. 1976.
Bowbrick, P., “Quality theories in agricultural economics”, Presented at EAAE Seminar Agricultural Marketing and Consumer Behaviour, 1996.
Bowbrick, P., “Limitations of non-behavioural approaches to the economics of quality” Conference of International Association for Research on Economic Psychology and the Society for the Advancement of Behavioral Economics, Rotterdam, 1994.
Bowbrick, P. and D. Price, “The Misuse of Indifference Curves in Quality Theory”, Working Paper, Henley, The Management College, Henley on Thames. 1991.
Bowbrick, P. and D Price, “The Misuse of Hedonic Prices and Costs”, Working Paper, Henley, The Management College, Henley on Thames. 1991.
Bowbrick, P., “Towards a General Theory of Search”, Agricultural Economics Society Conference. April, 1991.
Bowbrick, P., “Justifications for compulsory minimum standards” British Food Journal, 92 (2) 23-30, 1990.
Bowbrick, P., “Justifications for compulsory minimum standards”, Agricultural Economics Society Conference. April. 1989.
Bowbrick, P., “Stars and Superstars”, American Economic Review. June. p459 vol 73 1983.
Bowbrick, P., “Evaluating a grading system”, Irish Journal of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. 7 117-126. 1979.
Bowbrick, P., “Compulsory grading and the consumer”, Acta Horticulturae. 55. 1976.
Bowbrick, P., “A new approach to the economics of grading”, Paper to Irish Agricultural Economics Society. 1974.
Bowbrick, P., Effective Communication for Professionals and Executives. London/ Dordrecht /Boston, Graham and Trotman. ISBN 1-85333-081-7. 1988. The Art of the Economist
Bowbrick, P., Practical Economics for the Real Economist. London/Dordrecht/Boston, Graham and Trotman. ISBN 1-85333-076-0. 1988 The Art of the Economist
Mal Leicester, Roger Twelvetrees, Peter Bowbrick, “Philosophical Perspectives on Lifelong Learning – insights from education, engineering and economics,” in David Aspin (Ed.) Philosophical Perspectives on Lifelong Learning (Kluwer Press)
Morwenna Griffiths, Tony Cotton, Peter Bowbrick, “Educational researchers doing research on educational policy: Heroes, puppets, partners, or…?” Paper presented to the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Warwick 2006.
Bowbrick, P., Why economists need consultancy skills Economists need consultancy
Bowbrick, P., Why academics need consultancy skills Academics need consultancy
Most of the consultancy I have done has been strongly based in my marketing economics. Of my theoretical publications, everything on quality, grades and brands is, of course, marketing economics. This is presented on a separate page.
Many of the papers referenced below are highly critical of market margin analysis. They have seldom been cited because anybody reading them decides against using market margin analysis: indeed the analysis disappeared from the journals for fifteen or twenty years. However, it is springing up again, so it would be worth republishing them.
One of the reasons it will keep springing up is because it is so convenient for mathematical manipulation if you can assume constant percentage margins and equal elasticity at different stages in the marketing system. A very convenient assumption, but wrong.
I have not written on the lagged responses used in many analyses of market margins; I can but quote G.T. Jones, “It is based on the assumption that the telephone has not yet been invented.”
Several of the papers address the issue of quality of data used in marketing research. Garbage In: Garbage Out.
Bowbrick, P., “Are price reporting systems of any use?”, British Food Journal. 90(2) 65-69 March/April. 1988. (This is credited with precipitating the abandonment of the first generation of Market Information Systems, leading to more useful ones http://www.sim2g.org/)
Bowbrick, P., “Marketing Board inefficiency and farmers’ incomes”, Conference on African Marketing Boards. African Studies Centre, Leiden, Netherlands. 1983.
Bowbrick, P. and Feeney, P., “The impact of cost-saving innovations with traditional margins”, Journal of Agricultural Economics. May. 1981.
Bowbrick, P., “Price stabilization funds”, Agricultural Economics Society of Tanzania Conference. 1981.
Bowbrick, P., A bibliography on market-margin analysis. An Foras Taluntais, Dublin. 1978.
Bowbrick, P., “Distributive margins - a rejoinder”, Oxford Agrarian Studies. 6 168-170. 1977.
Bowbrick, P., “Price control and market margins for fruit and vegetables”, Acta Horticulturae. 55. 1976.
Bowbrick, P., “Determining distributive margins”, Oxford Agrarian Studies. 5 124-129. 1976.
Bowbrick, P., “Market-margin investigations and price control of fruit and vegetables”, Irish Journal of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. 6 9-20. 1976.
Bowbrick, P., “Commission sales or firm-price sales - a conflict of interest”, Irish Journal of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. 5 229-238. 1975.
Bowbrick, P., “Some limitations of market-margin analysis”, Irish Journal of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. 4(2) 23-28. 1974.
Bowbrick, P., “Retail mark-ups and distributive margins - a critical analysis of Professor Allen’s theory”, Irish Journal of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. 4(2) 1-23. 1973.
Bowbrick, P., “Price stabilization in a two-sector industry”, Acta Horticulturae. 40. 1972.
Bowbrick, P., “Errors in horticultural cost-of-production surveys”, Irish Journal of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. 6 21-29. 1976.
Dr Peter Bowbrick Peter@Bowbrick.eu 0131 556 7292 0777 274 6759