This article argues for balancing corporate personhood—or, more precisely, the unitary rational actor political theory of the firm, which predominates in the social science literature—with two other theories of the firm that have not yet been as fully developed. These alternatives treat the firm as a complex nexus of contracts among individual rational actors or as a set of organizational routines enacted by individuals playing roles. Although the three theories sometimes yield conflicting hypotheses, they more often direct analytical attention to different phenomena. From this perspective, as the article argues, they are, at the broadest level, complementary, like the blind men who feel different parts of the elephant in the Indian folk tale.
Keywords: political theory; corporate personhood; social science literature; organizational routines; rational actors; individual roles
Article. 8330 words.
Subjects: Business and Management ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour ; Public Management and Administration
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