Firms, Organizations and Contracts: A Reader in Industrial Organization

By Peter J. Buckley; Jonathan Michie | Go to book overview

8. Summary

While ordinary contracts facilitate efficient specialization according to comparative advantage, a special class of contracts among a group of joint inputs to a team production process is commonly used for team production. Instead of multilateral contracts among all the joint inputs' owners, a central common party to a set of bilateral contracts facilitates efficient organization of the joint inputs in team production. The terms of the contracts form the basis of the entity called the firm--especially appropriate for organizing team production processes.

Team productive activity is that in which a union, or joint use, of inputs yields a larger output than the sum of the products of the separately used inputs. This team production requires--like all other production processes-- an assessment of marginal productivities if efficient production is to be achieved. Nonseparability of the products of several differently owned joint inputs raises the cost of assessing the marginal productivities of those resources or services of each input owner. Monitoring or metering the productivities to match marginal productivities to costs of inputs and thereby to reduce shirking can be achieved more economically (than by across market bilateral negotiations among inputs) in a firm.

The essence of the classical firm is identified here as a contractual structure with: 1) joint input production; 2) several input owners; 3) one party who is common to all the contracts of the joint inputs; 4) who has rights to renegotiate any input's contract independently of contracts with other input owners; 5) who holds the residual claim; and 6) who has the right to sell his central contractual residual status. The central agent is called the firm's owner and the employer. No authoritarian control is involved; the arrangement is simply a contractual structure subject to continuous renegotiation with the central agent. The contractual structure arises as a means of enhancing efficient organization of team production. In particular, the ability to detect shirking among owners of jointly used inputs in team production is enhanced (detection costs are reduced) by this arrangement and the discipline (by revision of contracts) of input owners is made more economic.

Testable implications are suggested by the analysis of different types of organizations--nonprofit, proprietary for profit, unions, cooperatives, partnerships, and by the kinds of inputs that tend to be owned by the firm in contrast to those employed by the firm.

We conclude with a highly conjectural but possibly significant interpretation. As a consequence of the flow of information to the central party (employer), the firm takes on the characteristic of an efficient market in

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Firms, Organizations and Contracts: A Reader in Industrial Organization
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface and Acknowledgements v
  • Acknowledgements vi
  • Contents viii
  • List of Contributors xi
  • Foreword xiii
  • Introduction and Overview 1
  • Notes 18
  • References 20
  • I. THEORY OF THE FIRM 21
  • 1: The Equilibrium of the Firm 23
  • 2: The Nature of the Firm 40
  • 3: The Organization of Industry 59
  • 4: Production, Information Costs, and Economic Organization 75
  • Summary 95
  • Notes 96
  • References 102
  • 5: Theory of the Firm: Managerial Behavior, Agency Costs, and Ownership Structure 103
  • Conclusions 151
  • Notes 151
  • References 163
  • 6: Transaction-Cost Economics: The Governance of Contractual Relations 168
  • Conclusion 192
  • 7: An Economist's Perspective on the Theory of the Firm 199
  • Conclusion 212
  • Notes 212
  • II. MARKETS AND INDUSTRIAL ORGANIZATION 219
  • 8: Corporate Culture and Economic Theory 221
  • Introduction 221
  • Conclusion 261
  • Appendix 262
  • Appendix 271
  • Appendix 273
  • References 274
  • 9: Co-operative Agreements and the Organization of Industry 276
  • References 292
  • 10: Interpenetration of Organization and Market: Japan's Firm and Market in Comparison with the US 293
  • Conclusion 317
  • References 319
  • 11: Vertical Quasi-Integration 320
  • Conclusions 336
  • Notes 337
  • 12: Non-Contractual Relations In Business: A Preliminary Study 339
  • 13: Goodwill and the Spirit of Market Capitalism 359
  • III. JOINT VENTURES, NETWORKS, AND] CLANS 383
  • III. JOINT VENTURES, NETWORKS, AND] CLANS 385
  • References 407
  • 15: Joint Ventures 410
  • Conclusion 427
  • References 428
  • 16: Organizations: New Concepts for New Forms 429
  • Conclusion 440
  • Notes 441
  • 17: Markets, Bureaucracies, and Clans 442
  • References 456
  • Notes 459
  • References 473
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