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Neither Hierarchy nor Identity: Knowledge-Governance Mechanisms and the Theory of the Firm

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  • Anna Grandori


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    Building on existing empirical research on knowledge transfer, sharing and integration in inter-firm and intra-firm relations, it is argued that there is little evidence and theoretical reason for assigning exclusive properties to internal or external organization, as such, in a knowledge-governance respect. A more micro framework is then theoretically developed, in which a portfolio of knowledge-governance mechanisms is evaluated according to two criteria: the cognitive `possibility' to sustain certain types of knowledge interchanges; and the comparative cost of the mechanism where more than one is applicable. The results of both the empirical and conceptual analyses conducted cast doubts on the possibility of having a `theory of the firm,' based on the deterministic presence/absence of certain attributes and the possession of exclusive properties – no matter if hierarchy or identity – and call for a more `continuous' (rather than `discrete') and `combinative' (rather than mutually exclusive) notion of governance forms. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

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    Article provided by Springer & Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA) in its journal Journal of Management and Governance.

    Volume (Year): 5 (2001)
    Issue (Month): 3 (September)
    Pages: 381-399

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:jmgtgv:v:5:y:2001:i:3:p:381-399
    DOI: 10.1023/A:1014055213456
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    1. Luis Suarez-Villa & Ruth Rama, 1996. "Outsourcing, R&D and the Pattern of Intra-metropolitan Location: The Electronics Industries of Madrid," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 33(7), pages 1155-1197, August.
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