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Capabilities and the Theory of the Firm

  • Nicolai J. Foss

[fre] La décennie écoulée a permis d'observer une forte expansion de travaux sur la firme, à la fois dans une perspective de compétences et dans une perspective contractuelle. Ces deux corps de théories sont généralement considérés comme étant fondamentalement différents, parce que leurs domaines d'application sont différents (accumulation de connaissances versus contrats et incitations). Cependant il est nécessaire de combiner ces deux perspectives, car seule une théorie plus unifiée nous permettra d'appréhender des réalités telles que la dynamique de l'entreprise moderne. Je discute les relations entre ces deux corps de théories. On peut avancer l'idée qu'ils sont complémentaires. On peut cependant aussi prétendre qu'ils sont rivaux. Les développements sur les compétences contiennent certaines propositions que l'on ne trouve pas dans l'approche Coasienne moderne et qui peuvent par conséquent être considérés comme ouvrant des perspectives nouvelles en matière d'organisation. [eng] The recent decade has witnessed a strong expansion of work on the firm, both from a capabilities perspective and from a contractual perspective. These two bodies of theories are often thought to be fundamentally different, because their domains of applications are different (knowledge-accumulation vs contracts and incentives). However, we need to integrate propositions from both perspectives, because only a more unified theory will allow us to understand such issues as the dynamics of the modern corporation. I discuss the relations between these two bodies of theories. It is possible to argue in favor of a relation of complementarity between the two. However, it is also possible two daim that they are rivals. The capabilities perspective contains propositions that are not to be found within the modern Coasian approach and may be seen as a distinct emerging perspective on economic organization.

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Article provided by Programme National Persée in its journal Revue d'économie industrielle.

Volume (Year): 77 (1996)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 7-28

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Handle: RePEc:prs:recind:rei_0154-3229_1996_num_77_1_1633
Note: DOI:10.3406/rei.1996.1633
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/revue/rei

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  1. Bengt Holmstrom, 1981. "Moral Hazard in Teams," Discussion Papers 471, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  2. Brian J. Loasby, 1994. "Organisational Capabilities And Interfirm Relations," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(3), pages 248-265, October.
  3. Kirk Monteverde & David J. Teece, 1982. "Supplier Switching Costs and Vertical Integration in the Automobile Industry," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(1), pages 206-213, Spring.
  4. Rabin, Matthew, 1991. "Information and the Control of Productive Assets," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt6b7492v1, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  5. Richardson, G B, 1972. "The Organisation of Industry," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 82(327), pages 883-96, September.
  6. Cheung, Steven N S, 1983. "The Contractual Nature of the Firm," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(1), pages 1-21, April.
  7. Nicolai J. Foss, 1996. "Firms, Incomplete Contracts and Organizational Learning," DRUID Working Papers 96-2, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  8. Teece, David J., 1982. "Towards an economic theory of the multiproduct firm," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 39-63, March.
  9. L. Wade, 1988. "Review," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 58(1), pages 99-100, July.
  10. Foss, Nicolai Juul, 1993. "Theories of the Firm: Contractual and Competence Perspectives," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 127-44, May.
  11. Alchian, Armen A & Demsetz, Harold, 1972. "Production , Information Costs, and Economic Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 777-95, December.
  12. Nicolai J. Foss, 1994. "Why transaction cost economics needs evolutionary economics," Revue d'Économie Industrielle, Programme National Persée, vol. 68(1), pages 7-26.
  13. Coase, Ronald H., 1990. "Accounting and the theory of the firm," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1-3), pages 3-13, January.
  14. S.A. Lippman & R.P. Rumelt, 1982. "Uncertain Imitability: An Analysis of Interfirm Differences in Efficiency under Competition," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 418-438, Autumn.
  15. Demsetz, Harold, 1988. "The Theory of the Firm Revisited," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 141-61, Spring.
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