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John Commons's organizational theory of institutions: a discussion

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  • CHAVANCE, BERNARD

Abstract

The paper discusses John R. Commons's original theory of institutions, where the latter are defined as going concerns and their working rules, or collective action restraining and expanding individual action. Such organizational approach of institutions makes important contributions to institutional economics in general, through its notion of a hierarchy of collective action, its threefold typology of transactions, and its holindividualist stance. Commons's genuine advances are counterbalanced by theoretical limits, which illustrate the unfinished character of his attempt to make a contribution to a ‘rounded-out theory of Political economy’, e.g. the ambiguous place of markets in his theory, the state understood as a model for other going concerns and, distinctly, the restricted definition of institutions as organizations. In some important respects, his theory complements or goes further than other currents of institutional economics; its weak points are sometimes the reverse side of his very contributions.

Suggested Citation

  • Chavance, Bernard, 2012. "John Commons's organizational theory of institutions: a discussion," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(01), pages 27-47, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jinsec:v:8:y:2012:i:01:p:27-47_00
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    Cited by:

    1. Yefimov, Vladimir, 2013. "Philosophie et science économiques : leur contribution respective aux discours politiques
      [Economic philosophy and economic science: their respective contributions to political discourse]
      ," MPRA Paper 54598, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. repec:ers:journl:v:xx:y:2017:i:3a:p:370-385 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Buchs, Arnaud, 2014. "Comprendre le changement institutionnel," Revue de la Régulation - Capitalisme, institutions, pouvoirs, Association Recherche et Régulation, vol. 16.
    4. repec:ers:journl:v:xx:y:2017:i:3b:p:350-365 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Yefimov, Vladimir, 2013. "От Машин Удовольствия К Моральным Сообществам (Размышления Над Новой Книгой Джеффри Ходжсона)
      [From pleasure machines to moral communities (Reflections on a new book by Geoffrey Hodgson)]
      ," MPRA Paper 49024, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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