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The multiple boundaries of the firm

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2003
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Management Studies
Issue number5
Volume40
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)1255-1277
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The notion of firm boundaries has received considerable attention in theories of the firm that address the problems of investment incentives and mitigation of hold-up problems. In this paper we attempt to develop a different approach to the problem of vertical firm boundaries, based on recent advances in the capabilities view of the firm. Our arguments rely on the pioneering insights of Penrose, Richardson and Loasby to elaborate a view of the boundaries determined by the interaction of the firm's direct and indirect capabilities with other actors. We develop the notion of indirect capabilities to highlight how firm boundaries respond to the distribution of capabilities in the economy as well as the modes of access to complementary and external capabilities. We conclude that the evolution of firm boundaries must be understood in the context of decisions on how the firm relates to other actors in its environment.