The Form of the Firm: A Normative Political Theory of the Corporation

ISBN : 9780190698348

Abraham A. Singer
312 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Nov 2018
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Contemporary discussions of the corporation tend to divide into one of two camps: On one side are scholars who treat the firm as a purely economic and contractual entity, while another set of scholars look at corporations in purely political terms. Therefore, the corporation is not merely an economic endeavor; it is a political institution and must therefore serve social ends and not merely profit.

In The Form of the Firm, Abraham Singer contends that both of these approaches overstate their cases dramatically, resulting in two wrongheaded, influential accounts of the corporation. He offers a third way that sees the corporation as being both economic and political. First, it is true that corporations exist primarily to increase economic efficiency. However, they do this in ways that distinguish them from the markets in which they operate. Corporations are not natural outgrowths of the free market, but institutions that we have developed to correct market inefficiencies through mechanisms normally associated with politics. Corporations use social power, norms, and state-sanctioned authority to establish economic cooperation in ways that markets cannot. But, Singer argues that they also have an obligation to uphold the norms of liberal democracy that enable their existence and smooth-running in the first place.

A profound rethinking of what a corporation actually is and how power within it ought to be structured and exercised, The Form of the Firm will reshape our understanding of corporate governance, corporate law, and business ethics.


Chapter 1. A Framework for a Political Theory of the Corporation
Section I. The Economic Theory of Corporate Efficiency and Justice
Chapter 2. The Classical Theories of the Corporation
Chapter 3. Ronald Coase and the Difference between Markets and Firms
Chapter 4. The Managerial Challenge to Liberalism
Chapter 5. The Chicago School's Theory of the Corporation
Chapter 6. From Market to Firm to Market Again
Section II: A Normative Account of Corporate Efficiency
Chapter 7. The Concept of Norm-Governed Productivity
Chapter 8. Corporate Justice Within Efficiency Horizons
Section III: Toward a More Just Corporate Regime: Law, Governance, and Ethics
Chapter 9. Toward a Relational Corporate Law
Chapter 10. The Architecture of Corporate Governance and Workplace Democracy
Chapter 11. Business Ethics and Efficiency: The Market Failures Approach
Chapter 12. Business Ethics and Equality: The Concept of Justice Failure
Works Cited

About the author: 

Abraham A. Singer is currently assistant professor of Management at Loyola University Chicago's Quinlan School of Business. His research and teaching interests lie within and between business ethics and political theory.

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