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Tony Lawson's Theory of the Corporation: Towards a Social Ontology of Law

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  • Simon Deakin

Abstract

In his account of the corporation as a 'community', Tony Lawson advances a materialist theory of social reality to argue for the existence of emergent social structures based on collective practices and behaviours, distinguishing his position from John Searle's theory of social reality as consisting of declarative speech acts. Lawson's and Searle's accounts are examined for what they imply about the relationship between social structures and legal concepts. It is argued that legal concepts are themselves a feature of social reality and that a consequence of the law's recognition of the 'reality' of the corporation is to open up the activities of business firm to a distinct form of normative ordering.

Suggested Citation

  • Simon Deakin, 2017. "Tony Lawson's Theory of the Corporation: Towards a Social Ontology of Law," Working Papers wp491, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cbr:cbrwps:wp491
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    File URL: https://www.cbr.cam.ac.uk/fileadmin/user_upload/centre-for-business-research/downloads/working-papers/wp491.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fama, Eugene F & Jensen, Michael C, 1983. "Separation of Ownership and Control," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 301-325, June.
    2. Simon Deakin & David Gindis & Geoffrey M. Hodgson & Kainan Huang & Katharina Pistor, 2015. "Legal Institutionalism: Capitalism & the Constitutive Role of Law," Working Papers wp468, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
    3. Avi-Yonah Reuven S., 2011. "Citizens United and the Corporate Form," Accounting, Economics, and Law: A Convivium, De Gruyter, vol. 1(3), pages 1-56, December.
    4. Deakin, Simon & Wilkinson, Frank, 2005. "The Law of the Labour Market: Industrialization, Employment, and Legal Evolution," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198152811.
    5. Bratton William W., 2011. "Reuven Avi-Yonah's "Citizens United and the Corporate Form": Still Unuseful," Accounting, Economics, and Law: A Convivium, De Gruyter, vol. 1(3), pages 1-10, December.
    6. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
    7. Gindis, David, 2009. "From fictions and aggregates to real entities in the theory of the firm," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(1), pages 25-46, April.
    8. Aoki, Masahiko, 2010. "Corporations in Evolving Diversity: Cognition, Governance, and Institutions," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199218530.
    9. Robé Jean-Philippe, 2011. "The Legal Structure of the Firm," Accounting, Economics, and Law: A Convivium, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-88, January.
    10. Hansmann, Henry & Kraakman, Reinier, 2000. "Organizational law as asset partitioning," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 807-817, May.
    11. Gindis, David, 2016. "Legal personhood and the firm: avoiding anthropomorphism and equivocation," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(3), pages 499-513, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Phil Faulkner & Stephen Pratten & Jochen Runde, 2017. "Cambridge Social Ontology: Clarification, Development and Deployment," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(5), pages 1265-1277.
    2. Blanche Segrestin & Armand Hatchuel & Kevin Levillain, 2020. "When the law distinguishes between the enterprise and the corporation: the case of the new French law on corporate purpose," Post-Print hal-02441287, HAL.
    3. Blanche Segrestin & Armand Hatchuel & Kevin Levillain, 2020. "When the Law Distinguishes Between the Enterprise and the Corporation: The Case of the New French Law on Corporate Purpose," Post-Print hal-02465609, HAL.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    social ontology; the corporation; legal evolution;

    JEL classification:

    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary; Modern Monetary Theory;
    • K22 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Business and Securities Law

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