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Capabilities and the Theory of the Firm


  • Richard N. Langlois

    (The University of Connecticut)


This essay seeks to locate the ideas of G. B. Richardson within the present-day discussion of the theory of the boundaries of the firm. Richardson differs from the mainstream of transaction-cost economics in that, like Coase and Knight before him, he sees the problem of market contracting as a matter of difficult coordination rather than as a problem of "opportunism" in the face of contractual hazards, and in that he effectively links together transaction costs and production costs, categories sharply partitioned by traditional price theory (which largely ignored the former) and by transaction-cost economics (which largely ignores the latter).

Suggested Citation

  • Richard N. Langlois, 1995. "Capabilities and the Theory of the Firm," Industrial Organization 9503002, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpio:9503002
    Note: 33 pages. Paper for the colloquium in honor of G. B. Richardson, January 4-6, 1995, St. John's College, Oxford.

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bresnahan, Timothy F & Greenstein, Shane, 1999. "Technological Competition and the Structure of the Computer Industry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 1-40, March.
    2. Chou, Chien-fu & Shy, Oz, 1990. "Network effects without network externalities," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 259-270, June.
    3. Arthur, W Brian, 1989. "Competing Technologies, Increasing Returns, and Lock-In by Historical Events," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(394), pages 116-131, March.
    4. Katz, Michael L & Shapiro, Carl, 1986. "Technology Adoption in the Presence of Network Externalities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 822-841, August.
    5. Church, Jeffrey & Gandal, Neil, 1993. "Complementary network externalities and technological adoption," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 239-260, June.
    6. Church, Jeffrey & Gandal, Neil, 1992. "Network Effects, Software Provision, and Standardization," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(1), pages 85-103, March.
    7. Joseph Farrell & Garth Saloner, 1985. "Installed Base and Compatibility With Implications for Product Preannouncements," Working papers 385, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    8. Katz, Michael L & Shapiro, Carl, 1992. "Product Introduction with Network Externalities," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(1), pages 55-83, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mehrdad Vahabi, 1998. "The Relevance of the Marshallian Concept of Normality in Interior and in Inertial Dynamics as Revisited by G. SHACKLE and J. KORNAI," Post-Print hal-00629181, HAL.
    2. Benjamin Coriat, 2004. "The State of Organizational Reform in European Firms: Evidence from a Comparative Overview of Ten EU Countries," LEM Papers Series 2004/04, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    3. 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.

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    JEL classification:

    • L - Industrial Organization


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