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By Mary O'Sullivan

The writer analyzes techniques to working organisations: maximizing shareholder price or performing to serve stakeholders. She bases her arguments at the hyperlink among company governance and fiscal functionality in bills of company development within the US and Germany during the last century.

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Additional resources for Contests for Corporate Control: Corporate Governance and Economic Performance in the United States and Germany

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Nor can rivals, without equivalent productivity, afford to reward these resources to the same extent (Penrose 1995; Teece, Pisano, and Shuen 1997: 524-6; Lazonick and O'Sullivan 1996). If they successfully learn to innovate, business organizations can thus develop integrated structures of abilities and incentives for their participants that cannot be replicated through the market coordination of economic activity. If a competing organization commits resources to replicating the advantages that the incumbent has already accumulated—a time-consuming and expensive process—it will not secure privileged access to specific organizational knowledge.

Indeed, the concept of a firm had no real meaning in the Walrasian model. Instead, there was a set of feasible production plans. An economic actor chooses from this set the production plan that maximizes his welfare and exchanges inputs and outputs in a spot market to realize his optimal plan. With the mathematization of general equilibrium theory by Arrow and Debreu in the 1950s (Arrow and Debreu 1954; Debreu 1959), microeconomists increasingly relied on the assumption of constant returns to scale because of its adaptability in theoretical proofs of the existence of competitive equilibria.

From the characterization of exchange as a spot, arm's-length, and certain, or at least estimable, activity flowed a concept of resource allocation as reversible, individual, and optimal. Whatever the virtues of the neoclassical characterization of resource allocation as the foundation for an analysis of exchange (and its merits even for this purpose have been contested by, for example, Friedrich von Hayek and his successors, the Austrian economists), the characterization is extremely confining for those who are interested in the economics of production, primarily because it is inimical to any concept of productive investment.

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