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The nature of the firm and peculiarities of the corporation


  • Tony Lawson


Insights from social ontology are utilised to provide a novel, or at least clarified, conception of the firm. The latter is shown to be a particular form of social entity that is both of an economic and legal nature. The limited company or ‘corporation’ is shown to be a specific form of firm. A central distinguishing feature of the argument is that positioning matters in social identity constitution and different sorts of phenomena are positioned in different ways. The company/corporation is constituted in a manner that is a hybrid of other forms of positioning. Notions such as legal fiction and legal personality that abound in the related literature, often in confused ways, are also clarified. Various consequences are drawn for further analyses at the levels of method, theory and policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Tony Lawson, 2015. "The nature of the firm and peculiarities of the corporation," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 39(1), pages 1-32.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:39:y:2015:i:1:p:1-32.

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2011. "The Forgotten History of Domestic Debt," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(552), pages 319-350, May.
    2. Thomas Palley, 2007. "Asset-based Reserve Requirements: A Response," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(4), pages 575-578.
    3. J.W. Nevile & Peter Kriesler, 2008. "Expectations and Unemployment," Chapters,in: Keynes and Macroeconomics After 70 Years, chapter 19 Edward Elgar Publishing.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tony Lawson, 2015. "Comparing Conceptions of Social Ontology: Emergent Social Entities and/or Institutional Facts?," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1514, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    2. repec:oup:cambje:v:41:y:2017:i:5:p:1265-1277. is not listed on IDEAS

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