I hypothesise that the firm in itself (i.e. not as a group of people) is a cognitive and autonomous entity. Though made up of the behavior(s) of individual people, it is a behavioural phenomenon that is distinct from their cognitive capabilities and their autonomous decision making. According to the hypothesis this becomes manifest in the ability of a firm to attribute importance to events that contribute to its maintenance as a self-referencing system. The firm itself seeks interactions that are conducive to prolongation of its existence (cognition), and it has the elbow room to interact accordingly (autonomy).
That said a firm does not have the senses to perceive events, and the sensomotorische systems to act correspondingly. But the cognition of a firm must not be confused to that of an individual member of it population. Situations where an individual chooses differently from a firm, aka where the importance attributed by a firm are different from the individual, are easy to imagine. The population wants higher wages, lower sales prices, better returns, higher employment and improved personal development, for instance. The firm ‘wants’ continuation of its existence, the parentheses indicate that to want is a state of mind that is typical for the organic.
In an anthropocentric view the firm is managed to achieve behavior (performance) preconceived by the population. In the emergent view, the firm self-organises as an exponent of the ideas included its complex through the behavior of the population. The difference is of course that the complex of ideas evolves independently from the individuals of the population.
Applicability of this hypothesis means its fitness for explaining what is required to bring about change in a firm, or to predict where it is going. As the saying goes: if you want to move the mouse move the cheese. This means that even though we don’t know what a mouse thinks and how it will act, we do know that it will go where the cheese is. Similarly, apart from the generic idea that a firm ‘want’ to continue its existence, we don’t know the detail of its resolve.
How can we generate evidence that the firm pursues its own interests, independently from the wishes of its population? It is not enough to show that it happens on some occasion, it must be shown to happen always. That said it not necessary to show that the interests of the firm and those of the populations are always different and that they diverge completely. They may be the same frequently, but the primate of their occurrence is the interest of the firm. The reasons is that the memeplex explains to the members of the population that this is the best way forward. That may on may occasions be parallel to the best way for the population at once. This is not a necessary condition however, lest there were no conduct of the firm possible.
Is a non-trivial event conceivable where the interest of all the members of the population is singular and identical, but the firm acts differently or not at all? Or an event whereby the best interest of the population is no change, and the interest of the firm is to change in some aspect? I believe this is trivial, because the interests of the members of the population will in practical terms be different at nearly every event, if not the parameter then its value (the extent of required change). The firm emerges precisely from their different interests, and integrates them into a new solution to its perceived problems.
I believe that the autonomy of the firm sits in the elbow room it has from the restrictions posed by the interests of the individual sub-populations (stakeholders) as they continue to contribute to the firm’s continuation. Its cognition is a particular capability to compute a solution in the myriads of different solutions required by its population and the expressions (language) required for the population. They are the dimensions of the rhizomatic universe it spans up for itself. A test must generate evidence for this self-referencing capability of the firm removed from the population.