PhD Thesis abstract: The Firm as an Emergent Phenomenon

What everybody knows a firm kind of looks like

The firm is widely assumed to be our instrument: you acquire your branded products and services from one, you are employed by one, or it generates a return on your savings.

Just ask yourself this: what have you done without any involvement of a firm today? This week? Ever? Most likely a firm was involved in many of your actions. You are only fully autonomous when you can decide on your every action, including whatever contributed or led up to it. It is safe to assume that firms are not just ubiquitous but powerful too.

A firm is believed to come to an end when it goes bankrupt. However, evidence suggests they end because they cease to be autonomous, often as a result of a corporate transaction. But that means that a firm is an autonomous entity and not, as it is commonly assumed, a malleable instrument of people.

So, what is the nature of a firm, and what this means for the relation to the people involved with it? My study delivers a conceptual framework for a theory of the firm from a critique on these common beliefs, building on the thought that a firm is an autonomous behavioral system.

I propose that a firm is a complex of ideas which is dynamic, distributed over the minds of the people associated with it, motivating them to act coherently on its behalf, with the end in mind to maintain its own existence.

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Complexity Scientist