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The Problem With Bounded Rationality On Behavioral Assumptions in the Theory of the Firm

  • Nicolai J. Foss

I discuss and compare alternative approaches to integrating bounded rationality with the theory of economic organization, concentrating on the organizational capabilities approach, which is strongly influenced by the works of Nelson and Winter, organizational economics, particularly transaction cost economics, and, finally, a small subset of the literature on biases to judgment and cognition. I argue that, contrary to the conventional view, both the organizational capabilities approach and transaction cost economics treat bounded rationality rather “thinly,” the former being in actuality more taken up with organizational routines than individual boundedly rational behavior, the latter only invoking bounded rationality to the extent that it helps explaining incompleteness of contracting. The rich literature on cognitive biases, etc. suggests a “thick” approach to bounded rationality that may be helpful with respect to furthering the theory of economic organization. Examples pertaining to the internal organization of firms are provided.

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Paper provided by DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies in its series DRUID Working Papers with number 01-15.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:aal:abbswp:01-15
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.druid.dk/

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  1. Peter Maskell, 1996. "Localised Low-tech Learning in the Furniture Industry," DRUID Working Papers 96-11, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  2. 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.
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