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Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm

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  • Hart, Oliver
  • Moore, John

Abstract

This paper provides a framework for addressing the question of when transactions should be carried out within a firm and when through the market. Following Grossman and Hart, we identify a firm with the assets that its owners control. We argue that the crucial difference for party 1 between owning a firm (integration) and contracting for a service from another party 2 who owns this firm (nonintegration) is that, under integration, party 1 can selectively fire the workers of the firm (including party 2), whereas under nonintegration he can "fire" (i.e., stop dealing with) only the entire firm: the combination of party 2, the workers, and the firm's assets. We use this idea to study how changes in ownership affect the incentives of employees as well as those of owner-managers. Copyright 1990 by University of Chicago Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1119-1158, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:98:y:1990:i:6:p:1119-58
    DOI: 10.1086/261729
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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. Joskow, Paul L, 1988. "Asset Specificity and the Structure of Vertical Relationships: Empirical Evidence," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 95-117, Spring.
    3. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
    4. Takayama,Akira, 1985. "Mathematical Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521314985, May.
    5. Sergiu Hart, 2006. "Shapley Value," Discussion Paper Series dp421, The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
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