Sunday, 27 March 2011

Why firms can not be owned

Or at least why Gregory K. Dow argues that they can not be owned. In Dow (2003: 107) he writes,
[...] no one can not own a firm because a firm is a set of human agents.
This seems a bit odd. It’s based on an incorrect definition of a firm. First, obviously the idea of the legal ownership of a firm is well established in most countries. Second, as people own firms and they can not own other people then firms must be something other than a group of human agents. This explains why theories, such as the property rights approach to the firm, define ownership in terms of control rights over non-human assets.

PS: If you have an interest in labour managed firms, Dow's book is a must read.
  • Dow, Gregory K. (2003). Governing the Firm: Workers' Control in Theory and Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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