IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/uct/uconnp/1996-02.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Capabilities and Governance the Rebirth of Production in the Theory of Economic Organization

Author

Listed:
  • Richard N. Langlois

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Nicolai J. Foss

    (Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy, Denmark)

Abstract

Almost a decade ago, Paul Milgrom and John Roberts (1988, p. 450), two of the leaders in the formalist branch of the New Institutional Economics, made the following observation. "The incentive based transaction costs theory has been made to carry too much of the weight of explanation in the theory of organizations. We expect competing and complementary theories to emerge - theories that are founded on economizing on bounded rationality and that pay more attention to changing technology and to evolutionary considerations." This paper argues that such theories are now emerging. We survey and synthesize a developing perspective that we label the "capabilities" view. We argue that this view complements incentive-based theory (1) by considering the problems of imperfect knowledge in production as well as in governance and (2) by considering issues not only of incentive alignment but also of qualitative coordination among holders of specialized, distributed, and often tacit knowledge. Also, focusing on capabilities brings to the fore the idea that routines and similar rule-based forms of institutionalized knowledge may be important building blocks of economic organization. As a result, the capabilities approach arguably connects more fully with the New Institutional Economics, in which rule based guides to action like norms and conventions play a fundamental role, than do approaches that take the transaction as the unit of analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard N. Langlois & Nicolai J. Foss, 1996. "Capabilities and Governance the Rebirth of Production in the Theory of Economic Organization," Working papers 1996-02, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:1996-02
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://media.economics.uconn.edu/working/1996-02.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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. Rotemberg, Julio J & Saloner, Garth, 1994. "Benefits of Narrow Business Strategies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1330-1349, December.
    3. Bruce Kogut & Udo Zander, 1992. "Knowledge of the Firm, Combinative Capabilities, and the Replication of Technology," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 3(3), pages 383-397, August.
    4. Patrick Bolton & Mathias Dewatripont, 1994. "The Firm as a Communication Network," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 809-839.
    5. David J. TEECE, 2008. "Profiting from technological innovation: Implications for integration, collaboration, licensing and public policy," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: The Transfer And Licensing Of Know-How And Intellectual Property Understanding the Multinational Enterprise in the Modern World, chapter 5, pages 67-87, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    6. Oliver E. Williamson, 1991. "Strategizing, economizing, and economic organization," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(S2), pages 75-94, December.
    7. Nicolai J. Foss, 1996. "Capabilities and the Theory of the Firm," Revue d'Économie Industrielle, Programme National Persée, vol. 77(1), pages 7-28.
    8. Coase, Ronald H., 1990. "Accounting and the theory of the firm," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1-3), pages 3-13, January.
    9. Richard R. Nelson, 1991. "Why do firms differ, and how does it matter?," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(S2), pages 61-74, December.
    10. Radner, Roy, 1996. "Bounded Rationality, Indeterminacy, and the Theory of the Firm," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(438), pages 1360-1373, September.
    11. Paul Milgrom & John Roberts, 1988. "Economic Theories of the Firm: Past, Present, and Future," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 21(3), pages 444-458, August.
    12. Williamson, Oliver E., 1988. "Technology and transaction cost economics : A reply," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 355-363, October.
    13. Foss, Nicolai Juul, 1993. "Theories of the Firm: Contractual and Competence Perspectives," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 127-144, May.
    14. Holmstrom, Bengt R. & Tirole, Jean, 1989. "The theory of the firm," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 61-133, Elsevier.
    15. Barzel, Yoram, 1987. "The Entrepreneur's Reward for Self-policing," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 25(1), pages 103-116, January.
    16. Brian J. Loasby, 1989. "The Mind and Method of the Economist," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 288, November.
    17. Moore, John, 1992. "The firm as a collection of assets," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(2-3), pages 493-507, April.
    18. Coase, R H, 1988. "The Nature of the Firm: Origin," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 3-17, Spring.
    19. Demsetz, Harold, 1988. "The Theory of the Firm Revisited," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 141-161, Spring.
    20. David J. Teece, 2003. "Towards an Economic Theory of the Multiproduct Firm," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Essays In Technology Management And Policy Selected Papers of David J Teece, chapter 15, pages 419-446, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    21. 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.
    22. Riordan, Michael H. & Williamson, Oliver E., 1985. "Asset specificity and economic organization," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 365-378, December.
    23. Arrow, Kenneth J, 1985. "Informational Structure of the Firm," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 303-307, May.
    24. Flaherty, M Therese, 1980. "Industry Structure and Cost-Reducing Investment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(5), pages 1187-1209, July.
    25. Holland, John H & Miller, John H, 1991. "Artificial Adaptive Agents in Economic Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 365-371, May.
    26. S.A. Lippman & R.P. Rumelt, 1982. "Uncertain Imitability: An Analysis of Interfirm Differences in Efficiency under Competition," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 418-438, Autumn.
    27. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1995. "Some implications of growth for organizational form and ownership structure," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(3-4), pages 440-455, April.
    28. Williamson, Oliver E, 1971. "The Vertical Integration of Production: Market Failure Considerations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(2), pages 112-123, May.
    29. Richardson, G B, 1972. "The Organisation of Industry," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 82(327), pages 883-896, September.
    30. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1990. "The Economics of Modern Manufacturing: Technology, Strategy, and Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 511-528, June.
    31. Klein, Benjamin, 1988. "Vertical Integration as Organizational Ownership: The Fisher Body-General Motors Relationship Revisited," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 199-213, Spring.
    32. Foss, Nicolai J., 1996. "The “Alternative†Theories of Knight and Coase, and the Modern Theory of the Firm," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(1), pages 76-95, April.
    33. Lewis, Tracy R & Sappington, David E M, 1991. "Technological Change and the Boundaries of the Firm," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 887-900, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Gibbons, Robert, 2005. "Four forma(lizable) theories of the firm?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 200-245, October.
    2. Nicolai J. Foss, 1997. "Incomplete Contracts and Economic Organization Brian Loasby and the Theory of the Firm," DRUID Working Papers 97-11, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
    3. Nicholas S. Argyres & Teppo Felin & Nicolai Foss & Todd Zenger, 2012. "Organizational Economics of Capability and Heterogeneity," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 23(5), pages 1213-1226, October.
    4. Kim, Jongwook & Mahoney, Joseph T., 2008. "A Strategic Theory of the Firm as a Nexus of Incomplete Contracts: A Property Rights Approach," Working Papers 08-0108, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Business.
    5. Jain, Amit, 2011. "Connaissance, ressources, concurrence et les frontières de l'entreprise," Economics Thesis from University Paris Dauphine, Paris Dauphine University, number 123456789/6403 edited by Thiétart, Raymond-Alain, November.
    6. Nicolai J. Foss, 1996. "Capabilities and the Theory of the Firm," Revue d'Économie Industrielle, Programme National Persée, vol. 77(1), pages 7-28.
    7. Nicholas S. Argyres & Todd R. Zenger, 2012. "Capabilities, Transaction Costs, and Firm Boundaries," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 23(6), pages 1643-1657, December.
    8. James Jr., Harvey S., 1998. "Are employment and managerial control equivalent? Evidence from an electronics producer," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 447-471, September.
    9. Pitelis, Christos & Teece, David, 2009. "The (new) nature and essence of the firm," MPRA Paper 24317, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Teece, David J., 2010. "Technological Innovation and the Theory of the Firm," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, in: Bronwyn H. Hall & Nathan Rosenberg (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 0, pages 679-730, Elsevier.
    11. Aseem Kaul, 2013. "Entrepreneurial Action, Unique Assets, and Appropriation Risk: Firms as a Means of Appropriating Profit from Capability Creation," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 24(6), pages 1765-1781, December.
    12. Gamal Atallah, 2002. "Production Technology, Information Technology, and Vertical Integration Under Asymmetric Information," Working Papers 0203EClassification-JEL: , University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.
    13. Mehmet Ali Köseoglu & John A. Parnell & Melissa Yan Yee Yick, 2021. "Identifying influential studies and maturity level in intellectual structure of fields: evidence from strategic management," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 126(2), pages 1271-1309, February.
    14. Paul Walker, 2010. "The (Non)Theory Of The Knowledge Firm," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 57(1), pages 1-32, February.
    15. Alex Eapen & Rekha Krishnan, 2019. "Transferring Tacit Know-How: Do Opportunism Safeguards Matter for Firm Boundary Decisions?," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(4), pages 715-734, July.
    16. Filipe M. Santos & Kathleen M. Eisenhardt, 2005. "Organizational Boundaries and Theories of Organization," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 16(5), pages 491-508, October.
    17. Mikko Ketokivi & Joseph T. Mahoney, 2020. "Transaction Cost Economics As a Theory of Supply Chain Efficiency," Production and Operations Management, Production and Operations Management Society, vol. 29(4), pages 1011-1031, April.
    18. Nicolaï Foss & Nils Stieglitz, 2012. "Modern Resource-based Theory(ies)," Chapters, in: Michael Dietrich & Jackie Krafft (ed.), Handbook on the Economics and Theory of the Firm, chapter 20, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    19. Kapás, Judit, 1999. "Szükséges-e többdimenziós vállalatelmélet?. Az evolúciós vállalatelmélet kritikai összefoglalása [Is a multi-dimensional theory of the firm necessary?. A critical summary of the evolutionary theory," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(9), pages 823-841.
    20. Mark Casson & Nigel Wadeson, 2012. "Internationalisation Theory," Chapters, in: Michael Dietrich & Jackie Krafft (ed.), Handbook on the Economics and Theory of the Firm, chapter 15, Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D40 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - General
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:1996-02. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/deuctus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Mark McConnel (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/deuctus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.