I previously pointed out that a firm is knowable by its behaviour. Stripping it from what is not invariable, what invariably remains is people’s behavior. We recognise it because it is not random, but instead a pattern of behavior that compares to what we know to suspect it is a firm. What is this coherence that we recognise it by?
Depicted in the philosophy of Deleuze (1968) the firm makes and erases differences, or in other words it solves problems and in so doing it creates new problems at once. These kinds of problems are abundant and new ones emerge continually, by mechanisms that Deleuze calls differenciators (sic): creators of new differences.
The perspective of the firm (as a system) can’t really be known by the human observer in a direct sense. What importance it attributes to its interactions and how it exactly goes about solving problems posed to it are particular to it. Such problems and their solutions are represented to people by way of questions and answers respectively.
People observe firms and interact with them by asking them questions in order to get answers. Firms maintain themselves as a self-referencing system, because they continue to solve problems of their population. Solving their problems enables them to fulfil their purpose to stick around. Customers and investors for instance observe that their question is answered under the condition of answering the problems of the employees, the government, and Nature at once.
Solving such a problem introduces others for example office lease, purchase of machines and materials, energy contracts &c. The firm can be known, because it solves multiple often conflicting problems simultaneously and machinically while its single purpose it to last. It is known to an individual by its answering to a particular, conditional question.
We know a firm by its identity, and we know it answers our questions in a machinic way. But our question can be asked without describing what is a firm, because it emerges from their simultaneous answering. This model is falsified with a non-trivial instance of an interaction between a firm and at least one member of a (sub-)population that does not solve a problem for both. Take for example the case where a product is handed out without any kind of payment, an investment without any kind of return, while the firm continues to last.