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The (non)Theory of the Knowledge Firm

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Abstract

This paper argues that the mainstream approaches to the theory of the firm do not provide a theory of the human capital based or knowledge based firm. We examine the textbook (neoclassical) theory of the firm, the transaction cost model, the incentive-system approach and the Grossman Hart Moore approach to the firm and argue that none of them are able to fully capture the changes to the firm that the movement towards a knowledge economy entails. We also consider the effects of knowledge on the location of production.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Walker, 2008. "The (non)Theory of the Knowledge Firm," Working Papers in Economics 08/07, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
  • Handle: RePEc:cbt:econwp:08/07
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    File URL: http://www.econ.canterbury.ac.nz/RePEc/cbt/econwp/0807.pdf
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    1. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1994. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," NBER Chapters,in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 299-322 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. 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.
    3. Erik Brynjolfsson, 1994. "Information Assets, Technology and Organization," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 40(12), pages 1645-1662, December.
    4. Holmstrom, Bengt & Tirole, Jean, 1991. "Transfer Pricing and Organizational Form," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(2), pages 201-228, Fall.
    5. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
    6. 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.
    7. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Information and the Control of Productive Assets," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(1), pages 51-76, April.
    8. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1994. "The Firm as an Incentive System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 972-991, September.
    9. Loasby, Brian J., 1998. "The organisation of capabilities," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 139-160, April.
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    13. Cyert, Richard M & Hedrick, Charles L, 1972. "Theory of the Firm: Past, Present, and Future; An Interpretation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 398-412, June.
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    18. Moore, John, 1992. "The firm as a collection of assets," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(2-3), pages 493-507, April.
    19. Nicolai J. Foss, 1997. "The classical theory of production and the capabilities view of the firm," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 24(5), pages 307-323, October.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Theory of the firm; Knowledge economy; Human-capital based firm;

    JEL classification:

    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production

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