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Distinguishing authority from power through legitimacy. A step forward for economic analysis of employment relationship


  • Hervé Charmettant



The “Economics of Contracts” has altered the economic analysis of the employment relationship by tackling it through sets of problems centred on “hierarchy” and “power”. However, such a presentation eludes the content of non-economic works such as Max Weber’s classical ones on the need to distinguish “authority” and “power”. So, the dimension of legitimacy is brushed aside or rationalized which greatly weakens these “contractualist” approaches. Within a framework inspired by the French Theory of Conventions, this paper aims at emphasizing the interest of taking such a distinction into account.

Suggested Citation

  • Hervé Charmettant, 2012. "Distinguishing authority from power through legitimacy. A step forward for economic analysis of employment relationship," Cahiers d’économie politique / Papers in Political Economy, L'Harmattan, issue 62, pages 37-73.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpo:journl:y:2012:i:62:p:37-73

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    Authority; power; legitimacy; employment relationship; Economics of Contracts; French Theory of Conventions;

    JEL classification:

    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J50 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - General


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