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

ISBN : 9780197586860

Abraham A. Singer
312 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Jul 2021
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The Form of the Firm unveils the nature of the corporation as it exists in modern liberal societies. What are we to make of the power that corporations wield over people in modern society? Is such power legitimate? Many think so. To many businessmen and economists, as well as the general public, firms are purely private and economic entities, justified in using all legal means to maximize profit. In The Form of the Firm, Abraham Singer contends that such a view rests on a theoretical foundation that, while quite subtle, is deeply flawed. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, corporations are not natural outgrowths of the free market. Instead, Singer invites us to see corporations as political institutions that correct market inefficiencies through mechanisms normally associated with government -hierarchy, power, and state-sanctioned authority. Corporations exist primarily to increase economic efficiency, but they do this in ways that distinguish them from the markets in which they operate. Corporations serve economic ends, but through political means. Because of this, Singer argues that they also must be structured and obliged to uphold the social and political values that enable their existence and smooth-running in the first place: individual autonomy, moral and social equality, and democratic norms and institutions. A profound and timely 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 political theory, 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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