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Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm

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  • Oliver Hart
  • John Moore

Abstract

This paper provides a framework for addressing the question of when transactions should be carried out within a firm and when through the market. Following Grossman and Hart, we identify a firm with the assets that its owners control. We argue that the crucial difference for party 1 between owning a firm (integration) and contracting for a service from another party 2 who owns this firm (nonintegration) is that, under integration, party 1 can selectively fire the workers of the firm (including party 2), whereas under nonintegration he can "fire" (i.e., stop dealing with) only the entire firm: the combination of party 2, the workers, and the firm's assets. We use this idea to study how changes in ownership affect the incentives of employees as well as those of owner-managers. Our frame- work is broad enough to encompass more general control structures than simple ownership: for example, partnerships and worker and consumer cooperatives all emerge as special cases.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 495.

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Date of creation: May 1988
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Handle: RePEc:mit:worpap:495

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Postal: MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (MIT), DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS, 50 MEMORIAL DRIVE CAMBRIDGE MASSACHUSETTS 02142 USA
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Web page: http://econ-www.mit.edu/
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Postal: MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (MIT), DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS, 50 MEMORIAL DRIVE CAMBRIDGE MASSACHUSETTS 02142 USA
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References

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  1. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
  2. Alchian, Armen A & Demsetz, Harold, 1972. "Production , Information Costs, and Economic Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 777-95, December.
  3. Sergiu Hart, 2006. "Shapley Value," Discussion Paper Series dp421, The Center for the Study of Rationality, Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
  4. Joskow, Paul L, 1988. "Asset Specificity and the Structure of Vertical Relationships: Empirical Evidence," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 95-117, Spring.
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