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Journal of Economic Literature: Vol. 49 No. 1 (March 2011)

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Thinking about the Firm: A Review of Daniel Spulber's The Theory of the Firm

Article Citation

Hart, Oliver. 2011. "Thinking about the Firm: A Review of Daniel Spulber's The Theory of the Firm." Journal of Economic Literature, 49(1): 101-13.

DOI: 10.1257/jel.49.1.101

Abstract

In this review, I describe how economists have moved beyond the firm as a black box to incorporate incentives, internal organization, and firm boundaries. I then turn to the way that the theory of the firm is treated in Daniel Spulber's book The Theory of the Firm: Microeconomics with Endogenous Entrepreneurs, Firms, Markets, and Organizations. Spulber's goal is to explain why firms exist, how they are established, and what they contribute to the economy. To accomplish this, Spulber defines a firm to be a transaction institution whose objectives differ from those of its owners. For Spulber, this separation is the key difference between the firm and direct exchange between consumers. I raise questions about whether this is a useful basis for a theory of the firm. (JEL D21)

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Authors

Hart, Oliver (Harvard U)

JEL Classifications

D21: Firm Behavior: Theory


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