Toward a heterodox theory of the business enterprise: the Going Concern Model and the US computer industry
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This dissertation applies heterodox concepts of the social construction and allocation of resources in the provisioning process; the organization of going concerns in societies that are themselves going concerns; and the governance of markets, and production more generally, toward a heterodox theory of the firm. It is argued that, in contrast to extant theories of the firm, the boundaries of modern firms are not the result of processes of individual contracting in the face of transactions costs, or coterminous with knowledge-based resources. Rather, they are principally the product of the coevolution of business and technological practices, chiefly in the interest of the former over the latter. It is furthermore argued that this process, in a socioeconomic system defined by the firm as a hierarchy of going concerns, is more akin to the gerrymandering of congressional districts than to an efficient allocation of material transactions between the firm and market spheres. The history of the US software industry from the 1950s through the 1990s is provided as a case both illustrating and informing the theory. In particular, it is shown that this industry owes its structure, and indeed its existence, to the evolution of business strategies concerning the technological relationships surrounding the provision and use of computer systems. The industry's history corroborates the general hypotheses that (1) markets and firms themselves tend to be governed by the concerns operating therein; and (2) the resulting governance structures necessarily involve state sanctioning, including the administration of appropriate property rights over the relevant technological relationships.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Meta-theoretical foundation of the Going Concern Model -- The Going Concern Model of the business enterprise, I -- The Going Concern Model of the business enterprise, II -- The going enterprise in the computer industry -- Open systems and intellectual property: the evolution of market governance mechanisms -- Conclusion