Capabilities and the Theory of the Firm

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Abstract

The recent decade has witnessed a strong expansion of work on the firm, both from a capabilities perspective and from a contractual perspective. These two bodies of theories are often thought to be fundamentally different, because their domains of applications are different (knowledge-accumulation vs contracts and incentives). However, we need to integrate propositions from capabilities perspectives with ideas about economic organization (markets, hybrids, firms). This is because only a more unified theory will allow us to understand such issues as the dynamics of the modern corporation, and, more topically, the costs and benefits of outsourcing. I discuss the relations between these two bodies
of theories. It is possible to argue in favor of a relation of complementarity between the two and pursue a research strategy on this basis. However, it is also possible two claim that they are rivals. Along this line, it is argued that the capabilities perspective contains propositions about economic organization that are not to be found within the modern Coasian approach to economic organization, and thus may be seen as a distinct emerging perspective on economic organization.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
PublisherDRUID - Danish Research Unit for Industrial Dynamics
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)8778730082
Publication statusPublished - 1996
SeriesDRUID Working Paper
Number96-08

Cite this

Foss, N. J. (1996). Capabilities and the Theory of the Firm. Frederiksberg: DRUID - Danish Research Unit for Industrial Dynamics. DRUID Working Paper, No. 96-08