The author analyses competition as one of four coordinating mechanisms helping agents mutually to orientate their actions, avoid chaos, and produce social order.
Competition is a key dimension of developed societies.
It helps to structure and is also conducive to social change.
Competing agents constrain one another, making it hard for anyone to change their position.
They discover new routines the best of which may later be institutionalized.
Competition is a solvent of power but only in relatively equal societies.
Entrenched wealth or status restricts competition, thus impoverishing social order.
The author also evaluates the theory of competition to explore such topics as corporate social responsibility, relations between government, business and civil society, and reflexivity in social sciences.