Mapping the Third Sector in John R. Commons' Typology of Transactions
While John R. Commons often referred to third sector organizations, such as associations, cooperatives, and trade unions, it is unclear how these organizations can be fitted into his transactional typology. This paper clarifies this problem by identifying two dimensions of bargaining, managerial, and rationing transactions: 1) the extent of legal equality of transactional participants, and 2) the extent of commonness of these participants' transactional interests. These dimensions enable defining the identity of the third sector in terms of a distinct variety of rationing transactions combining legal equality of transactional participants with significant commonness of their interests. The paper further explores several implications of this argument for new institutional economics, concerning the citizenship aspect of markets and hierarchies and the possibility of viewing third sector organizations as hybrids between markets and hierarchies. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications for further research.
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