But what books are worth reading to get an understanding of the contemporary (post-1970) mainstream theory of the firm? Well here's my list.
Two books which contain the classics on which most of the contemporary theories are based are:
- Knight, Frank H. (1921). Risk, Uncertainty and Profit, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. This is a book that is getting an increasing amount of attention. Albeit very late in the piece
- Oliver E. Williamson and Sidney G. Winter (eds.) (1993). The Nature of the Firm: Origins, Evolution, and Development, New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press. This includes a reprint of Coase's 1937 classic "The Nature of the Firm". It also includes reprints of Coase's three essays on the Origin, Meaning and Influence of his 1937 paper as well as his Noble Lecture: "The Institutional Structure of Production".
- Williamson, Oliver E. (1975). Markets and Hierarchies: Analysis and Antitrust Implications, New York: The Free Press.
- Williamson, Oliver E. (1985). The Economic Institutions of Capitalism, New York: The Free Press.
- Williamson, Oliver E. (1996). The Mechanisms of Governance, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Hart, Oliver D. (1995). Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Hansmann, Henry (1996). The Ownership of Enterprise, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
- Demsetz, Harold (1995). The Economics of the Business Firm: Seven Critical Commentaries, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Spulber, Daniel F. (2009). The Theory of the Firm: Microeconomics with Endogenous Entrepreneurs, Firms, Markets, and Organizations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Foss, Nicolai J. and Peter G. Klein (2012). Organizing Entrepreneurial Judgment: A New Approach to the Firm, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.