In a recent survey of the Theories of the Firm-Market Boundary, Todd R. Zenger, Teppo Felin and Lyda Bigelow write
As one recent review explained, “the theory of the firm has become a big business” (Gibbons, 2005: 200)And indeed Robert Gibbons did write,
After halting beginnings, the theory of the firm has become a big business. Coase (1937) posed the theory’s defining question: which transactions are more efficiently conducted in a firm than in a market? But then the field lay fallow for several decades. Since the 1970s, however, the theory of the firm has become one of the most fertile fields in the profession.This seemed strange to me. From the viewpoint of New Zealand the theory of the firm looks more like a struggling intellectual corner dairy than a big business. The halting never seems to have ended in New Zealand. No matter how fertile the fields no one seems to be ploughing them in this part of down under.
But I figured this could just be me, what do I know?, so I wasted a whole pile of bandwidth and checked out the websites of New Zealand’s universities (most of which are awful by the way) to see how many of the economics departments have courses on the theory of the firm or on organisational economics. Answer, none. Or at least, none that I could find. Yes I’m sure that the theory of the firm get a mention in courses on industrial organisation or managerial economics or in more general microeconomics courses but its in passing or just as background needed to deal with whatever the course is really about. There appear to be no dedicated courses on the subject. Are firms really considered as unimportant to the economy as this would suggest?
So theory of the firm economists unite, you have nothing to lose but your obscurity! Assuming there is someone else to unite with.