Deal or no deal? Some reflections on the ‘Baker-Thompson rule,’ ‘matching,’ and ‘market design’

Thompson, Grahame F. (2020). Deal or no deal? Some reflections on the ‘Baker-Thompson rule,’ ‘matching,’ and ‘market design’. Journal of Cultural Economy, 13(5) pp. 652–662.



This article raises the issue of why the idea of a ‘deal’ has become so prevalent in the discussion of political matters and policy proposals associated with future economic developments. It does this by linking the deal with several features of market design. Principal amongst these are game theory and matching algorithms. The Barker-Thompson Rule is presented as an example of a particular type of market construction operating in a game theoretic context, while the ‘matching engine’ is explored in a variety of contexts where it is argued to have become a standardized technique indicating to a possible reshaping of the economic terrain more generally. The consequences of these developments and trends are the emergence of a ‘dealing culture’ that threatens to overwhelm other forms of decision-making and consume the policy-making environment with the immediacy of its dealing logic.

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