IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/wes/weswpa/2010-003.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Firms as Social Actors

Author

Listed:
  • Richard Adelstein

    (Department of Economics, Wesleyan University)

Abstract

This essay asks what firms are, whether they are ‘real’ social actors, and whether their actions can be traced without remainder to the actions of living people or whether there is some irreducible aspect of their existence or operation that must be attributed to the organization itself. It describes firms as ongoing, multilateral relational contracts from whose operation, that is, from performance over time by specific individuals in the roles and relationships defined by the contract, emerge the firm’s idiosyncratic routines and capabilities. It emphasizes the role of entrepreneurs in the creation of firms and the close dependence of organizational capabilities on human performance, and argues that this account is consistent with a reasonable individualism that allows for social outcomes to be determined by the actions and interaction of individuals. It then proposes that firms are nonetheless institutional facts and thus ontologically subjective but epistemically objective components of reality, and concludes with directions for future work.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Adelstein, 2010. "Firms as Social Actors," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2013-003, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:wes:weswpa:2010-003
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://repec.wesleyan.edu/pdf/radelstein/2010003_adelstein.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Witt, Ulrich, 1999. "Do Entrepreneurs Need Firms? A Contribution to a Missing Chapter in Austrian Economics," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 11(1-2), pages 99-109.
    2. Geoffrey M. Hodgson, 2003. "The hidden persuaders: institutions and individuals in economic theory," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(2), pages 159-175, March.
    3. Williamson, Oliver E, 1979. "Transaction-Cost Economics: The Governance of Contractural Relations," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 233-261, October.
    4. Richard N. Langlois, 2003. "The vanishing hand: the changing dynamics of industrial capitalism," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(2), pages 351-385, April.
    5. 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.
    6. Foss, Nicolai Juul, 1993. "Theories of the Firm: Contractual and Competence Perspectives," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 127-144, May.
    7. Searle, John R., 2005. "What is an institution?," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(1), pages 1-22, June.
    8. Dow, Gregory K., 1987. "The function of authority in transaction cost economics," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 13-38, March.
    9. Nicolai J. Foss, 2003. "Bounded rationality and tacit knowledge in the organizational capabilities approach: an assessment and a re-evaluation," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(2), pages 185-201, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Chassagnon, Virgile, 2012. "Une analyse historique de la nature juridique de la firme," Revue de la Régulation - Capitalisme, institutions, pouvoirs, Association Recherche et Régulation, vol. 12.
    2. Breidbach, Christoph F. & Tana, Silviana, 2021. "Betting on Bitcoin: How social collectives shape cryptocurrency markets," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 311-320.
    3. Keck Markus & Bohle Hans-Georg & Zingel Wolfgang-Peter, 2012. "Dealing with insecurity," Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie, De Gruyter, vol. 56(1-2), pages 43-57, October.

    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. Richard P. Adelstein, 2003. "Knowledge and Power in the Mechanical Firm: Planning for Profit in Austrian Perspective," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2005-015, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
    2. Frenken, Koen, 2006. "A fitness landscape approach to technological complexity, modularity, and vertical disintegration," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 288-305, September.
    3. Colombo, Massimo G. & Garrone, Paola, 1998. "Common carriers' entry into multimedia services," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 77-105, March.
    4. Foss, Nicolai J., 2003. "Bounded rationality in the economics of organization: "Much cited and little used"," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 245-264, April.
    5. Geoffrey M. Hodgson, 2010. "Limits of Transaction Cost Analysis," Chapters, in: Peter G. Klein & Michael E. Sykuta (ed.), The Elgar Companion to Transaction Cost Economics, chapter 28, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Kaouthar Lajili & Joseph T. Mahoney, 2006. "Revisiting agency and transaction costs theory predictions on vertical financial ownership and contracting: electronic integration as an organizational form choice," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(7), pages 573-586.
    7. 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.
    8. Hodgson, Geoffrey M., 2013. "Observations on the legal theory of finance," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 331-337.
    9. Shelby D. Hunt, 2012. "Trust, Personal Moral Codes, and the Resource-Advantage Theory of Competition: Explaining Productivity, Economic Growth, and Wealth Creation," Contemporary Economics, University of Economics and Human Sciences in Warsaw., vol. 6(2), June.
    10. Witt, Ulrich, 1998. "Imagination and leadership - The neglected dimension of an evolutionary theory of the firm," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 161-177, April.
    11. Richard Adelstein, 2005. "Knowledge and Power in the Mechanical Firm: Planning for Profit in Austrian Perpsective," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 18(1), pages 55-82, January.
    12. Georgina M. Gómez, 2018. "Why do people want currency? Institutions, habit, and bricolage in an Argentine marketplace," Evolutionary and Institutional Economics Review, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 413-430, December.
    13. Dolfsma, W.A. & McMaster, R. & Finch, J., 2005. "Institutions, Institutional Change, Language, and Searle," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2005-067-ORG, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
    14. Ambrosino, Angela & Fiori, Stefano, 2017. "How Can Formal Norms Change Informal Norms? Douglass North’s Approach to Ideologies and Institutional Change," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201707, University of Turin.
    15. Peter G. Klein & Michael E. Sykuta (ed.), 2010. "The Elgar Companion to Transaction Cost Economics," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 4136.
    16. Michael Dietrich & Jackie Krafft, 2011. "Firm development as an integrated process: with evidence from the General Motors–Fisher Body case," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 21(4), pages 665-686, October.
    17. Gindis, David & Hodgson, Geoffrey M. & Huang, Kainan & Pistor, Katharina, 2017. "Legal institutionalism: Capitalism and the constitutive role of lawAuthor-Name: Deakin, Simon," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 188-200.
    18. Jell-Ojobor, Maria & Windsperger, Josef, 2014. "The Choice of Governance Modes of International Franchise Firms — Development of an Integrative Model," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 153-187.
    19. Alberto Battistini, 2008. "Micro-Founded Institutions and Macro-Founded Individuals: The Dual Nature of Profit," Department of Economics University of Siena 550, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    20. Joachim Henkel & Alexander Hoffmann, 2019. "Value capture in hierarchically organized value chains," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(2), pages 260-279, April.

    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:wes:weswpa:2010-003. 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/edwesus.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: Manolis Kaparakis (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/edwesus.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.