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Faculty of Economics

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Lawson, T.

The Nature of the Firm, and Peculiarities of the Corporation

Cambridge Journal of Economics

Abstract: Insights from social ontology are utilised to provide a novel, or at least clarified, conception of the firm. The latter is shown to be a particular form of social entity that is both of an economic and legal nature. The limited company or ‘corporation’ is shown to be a specific form of firm. A central distinguishing feature of the argument is that positioning matters in social identity constitution and different sorts of phenomena are positioned in different ways. The company/corporation is constituted in a manner that is a hybrid of other forms of positioning. Notions such as legal fiction and legal personality that abound in the related literature, often in confused ways, are also clarified. Various consequences are drawn for further analyses at the levels of method, theory and policy.

Keywords: Firm, Corporation, Ontology, Social Positioning, Community, Arefact, Legal fiction, Juridical person, Rights, Obligations, Function

JEL Codes: A10, B40, D20, D70, K00, L10, L20, L30, M20, N10, P12, P16, P48

Author links: Tony Lawson  

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Papers and Publications

Recent Publications

Onatski, A. and Wang, C. Alternative Asymptotics for Cointegration Tests in Large VARs Econometrica [2018]

Jochmans, K., and Weidner, M. Fixed-Effect Regressions on Network Data Econometrica, forthcoming [2019]

Elliott, M. and Golub, B. A network approach to public goods accepted, Journal of Political Economy [2018]