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The Legal Nature of the Firm and the Myth of the Firm-Market Hybrid

  • Geoffrey Hodgson

A sharp conceptual distinction used to be drawn between the firm and the market. However, since the 1970s, many economists and sociologists have argued that the boundaries of the firm are indistinct. Ideas emerged of 'internal markets' within firms, of the 'quasifirm', of 'hybrid firms' and of firms as 'quasi-markets'. This article re-examines the formal, legal conception of the firm. It is argued that there is no good reason to abandon this conception, even in the light of relational contracting, networking, subcontracting and other developments. To avoid confusion, additional terms such as 'supplier network' or 'conglomerate' should be used to describe these phenomena, rather than abandoning a legally-based definition of the firm. With this clarified definition, 'internal markets' and 'hybrid firms' disappear from view.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal International Journal of the Economics of Business.

Volume (Year): 9 (2002)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 37-60

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Handle: RePEc:taf:ijecbs:v:9:y:2002:i:1:p:37-60
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