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The Contested Sovereignty of the Firm

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  • Michael Dietrich

Abstract

This paper suggests that the firm can be analysed as a regulated system of contested sovereignty. The economic literature on the firm is categorised in terms of four different perspectives on sovereignty identified using the twin factors of power and authority. But rather than any single perspective being identified as analytically superior, it is argued that a system of contested sovereignty should be based on all four perspectives. Following this, a Polanyi-inspired analysis of firm regulation is presented in which the regulation of the firm emerges to control the costs of free markets. However, this regulation depicts firm sovereignty as complex and contested rather than simply an optimal response to market failures.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Dietrich, 2002. "The Contested Sovereignty of the Firm," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(2), pages 193-209.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:14:y:2002:i:2:p:193-209
    DOI: 10.1080/09538250220126519
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alchian, Armen A & Demsetz, Harold, 1972. "Production , Information Costs, and Economic Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 777-795, December.
    2. Baumol, William J, 1982. "Contestable Markets: An Uprising in the Theory of Industry Structure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 1-15, March.
    3. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Multicontract Organization," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 21(3), pages 459-466, August.
    4. Earl, Peter E, 1990. "Economics and Psychology: A Survey," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(402), pages 718-755, September.
    5. Fitzroy, Felix R & Kraft, Kornelius, 1987. "Efficiency and Internal Organization: Works Councils in West German Firms," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 54(216), pages 493-504, November.
    6. Dow, Gregory K., 1987. "The function of authority in transaction cost economics," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 13-38, March.
    7. Michael Dietrich, 1993. "Total Quality Control, Just-in-Time Management, and the Economics of the Firm," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 20(6), pages 17-31, October.
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