Firms as Social Actors
AbstractThis essay asks what firms are, whether they are ‘real’ social actors, and whether their actions can be traced without remainder to the actions of living people or whether there is some irreducible aspect of their existence or operation that must be attributed to the organization itself. It describes firms as ongoing, multilateral relational contracts from whose operation, that is, from performance over time by specific individuals in the roles and relationships defined by the contract, emerge the firm’s idiosyncratic routines and capabilities. It emphasizes the role of entrepreneurs in the creation of firms and the close dependence of organizational capabilities on human performance, and argues that this account is consistent with a reasonable individualism that allows for social outcomes to be determined by the actions and interaction of individuals. It then proposes that firms are nonetheless institutional facts and thus ontologically subjective but epistemically objective components of reality, and concludes with directions for future work.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Wesleyan University, Department of Economics in its series Wesleyan Economics Working Papers with number 2013-003.
Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published Journal of Institutional Economics 6 (2010): 329-349.
theories of the firm; relational contracts; organizational capabilities; collective actors; individualism; institutional facts;
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