Capabilities, Transaction Costs, and Firm Boundaries: An Integrative Theory
Washington University in Saint Louis
Todd R. Zenger
Washington University in Saint Louis - John M. Olin Business School
August 18, 2011
Organization Science, Forthcoming
While the literature on firm boundaries has been greatly influenced by transaction cost economics, strategy scholars often emphasize the importance of capabilities considerations in these decisions. This has led to a debate that, we suggest, has generated more heat than light. We argue that the two sets of considerations are in fact so intertwined dynamically that treating them as independent, competitive explanations is fundamentally misleading. We offer a theoretical synthesis of transaction cost and capabilities approaches to firm boundaries that seeks to overcome each approach’s limitations, and provides a unified and logically consistent understanding of boundary decisions.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 39
Keywords: capabilities, transaction costs, resource-based view, firm boundaries
JEL Classification: D23, L14, L22, L21, L33Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: November 19, 2011
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