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Knowledge, coordination and the firm: Historical perspectives

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  • Brian Loasby

Abstract

This paper illustrates the problems and processes of developing economic knowledge by a selective historical treatment of ideas about the firm. Coase thought it necessary to explain firms as organizations, but not as distinctive productive units; neither did he explain why markets exist. Chamberlin's attempt to introduce product differentiation and selling costs is compared with Allyn Young's process theory and Marshall's treatment of the firm, and inter-firm relations, as means of organizing the growth of knowledge. The firm is a decision-making system in a context of Knightian uncertainty, and Simon's concept of quasi-decomposability applies to human brains and human organizations.

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  • Brian Loasby, 2009. "Knowledge, coordination and the firm: Historical perspectives," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(4), pages 539-558.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:eujhet:v:16:y:2009:i:4:p:539-558 DOI: 10.1080/09672560903201227
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Eric Nasica, 2002. "Financing economic activity: Schumpeter vs Keynes," Post-Print halshs-00468593, HAL.
    2. Geoffrey M. Hodgson, 1998. "The Approach of Institutional Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 166-192, March.
    3. Schumpeter, Joseph A., 1947. "The Creative Response in Economic History," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(02), pages 149-159, November.
    4. North, Douglass C, 1994. "Economic Performance through Time," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 359-368.
    5. Shionoya,Yuichi, 1997. "Schumpeter and the Idea of Social Science," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521430340, December.
    6. Hodgson, Geoffrey M. & Knudsen, Thorbjorn, 2006. "Why we need a generalized Darwinism, and why generalized Darwinism is not enough," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 1-19, September.
    7. Powell, Walter W, 1996. "Weber and Schumpeter: Turbulent Lives, Ideas Never at Rest," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(3), pages 917-924.
    8. Markus C. Becker & Thorbjørn Knudsen & James G. March, 2006. "Schumpeter, Winter, and the sources of novelty," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(2), pages 353-371, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Argandoña, Antonio, 2010. "From action theory to the theory of the firm," IESE Research Papers D/855, IESE Business School.
    2. Werner Pascha & Cornelia Storz & Markus Taube, 2011. "Coordination between Inertia and Dynamic Development: An Overview of Issues and Contributions," Chapters,in: Institutional Variety in East Asia, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.

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    Keywords

    Firms; organization; knowledge; decisions; uncertainty;

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