The Nature of the Firm: Origins, Evolution, and Development

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Oxford University Press, 1993 - Bibles - 244 pages
In 1937, Ronald H. Coase published "The Nature of the Firm," a classic paper that raised fundamental questions about the concept of the firm in economic theory. Coase proposed that the comparative costs of organizing transactions through markets rather than within firms are the primary determinants of the size and scope of firms. Coase won the 1991 Nobel Prize in Economics for this work. This volume derives from a conference held in 1987 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Coase's classic article. The first chapter affords an overview of the volume. It is followed by a republication of the 1937 article, and by the three lectures Coase presented at the conference. These lectures provide a lively and informative history of the origins and development of his thought. Subsequent chapters explore a wide-range of theoretical and empirical issues that have arisen in the transaction cost economic tradition. They illustrate the power of the transaction cost approach to enhance understanding not only of business firms, but of problems of economic organization generally. In addition to Coase's work, contributors include Sherwin Rosen, Paul Joskow, Oliver Hart, Harold Demsetz, Scott Masten, Benjamin Klein, as well as the volume's editors, Oliver E. Williamson, and Sidney G. Winter. The Nature of the Firm includes Coase's acceptance speech for his Nobel Prize in Economics.
 

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Contents

The Nature of the Firm 1937
18
Origin
34
Meaning
48
Influence
61
The Logic of Economic Organization
90
Asset Specificity and the Structure
117
Incomplete Contracts and the Theory of the Firm
138
The Theory of the Firm Revisited
159
On Coase Competence and the Corporation
179
A Legal Basis for the Firm
196
lndex
236
Copyright

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About the author (1993)

Oliver E. Williamson is a highly distinguished business economist and the author or editor of several books and articles, most famous being Markets and Hierarchies (The Free Press, New York, 1975). He recently edited another book for Oxford, Organizational Theory: From Chester Barnard to the Present and Beyond (1990). He has taught at the University of Pennsylvania (1965-77), Yale University (1983-8), the University of Warwick(1973), the University of Kyoto (1983), Harvard University (1987), Indiana University (1987). He has also delivered lectures at a wide range of universities, including, in Europe Lund and Madrid Univeristies.He is on the Editorial Boards of several journals: Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization; Journal of Economic Organization; Journal of Japanese and International Economics; Journal of Accounting, Auditing, and Finance; Organization Studies; Regulation; Organization Science; and Cambridge Surveys of Economic Literature. He is a Fellow of the Econometric Society.Ronald Coase won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1991 for achieving a `breakthrough in understanding the institutional structure of the economy'. He taught at the London School of Economics from 1935-51, where he produced `The Nature of the Firm' (1937), which has had a profound effect on economists. He is well known to economists for the Coase Theorem, which he presented in a pathbreaking paper in 1960. He comes from Middlesex, but emigrated to America and he has held postsat the University of Chicago Law School for several years.Oliver D. Hart, who recently delivered the Clarendon Lectures in Economics at Oxford, is at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as is Paul L. Joskow. Benjamin Klein is at the University of California, Los Angeles; Scott E. Masten is at the University of Michigan; and Sherwin Rosen is at the University of Chicago.

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