Regulation and the Nature of the Firm: The Case of U.S. Regional Airlines

22 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2011 Last revised: 2 Nov 2011

Date Written: July 18, 2011


In his pathbreaking article, Ronald H. Coase postulated that the structure of production was determined by the comparative advantage between contracting and hierarchy in securing and coordinating complementary resources (human or material) when the efforts of more than one person were required for production. While Coase considered the possibility that the regulatory context in which activity takes place might also influence the way it is structured, he considered the problem only very generally. This paper suggests that airline deregulation has profoundly affected the structure of firms that operate airline networks by affecting the contractual conditions under which airlines purchase labor inputs, by removing constraints on the extent and nature of the firm’s route network and by changing the competitive environment in which airline firms operate. Where a stable uniform firm structure existed under regulation, airline networks now are organized with a variety of firm structures and individual networks have changed as particular conditions have changed over time. No single structure dominates, although some are more common than others.

Suggested Citation

Levine, Michael E., Regulation and the Nature of the Firm: The Case of U.S. Regional Airlines (July 18, 2011). Journal of Law and Economics, Forthcoming; NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 11-24. Available at SSRN:

Michael E. Levine (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

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