Makes the case that the classical theory of production, as developed primarily by Adam Smith, should be seen as a precursor of the modern capabilities view of the firm (Penrose, Richardson, Nelson and Winter, Teece, Langlois and others). Furthermore, based on an empiricist epistemology, Smith developed ideas that are close to modern notions such as routines and bounded rationality. Shows that his emphasis on knowledge, specialization and learning is characteristic of the capabilities view, but not of the contractual view. Discusses the intellectual link from Smith to other classicals, such as Babbage and Marx, to Marshall and such post‐Marshallians as McGregor, Andrews, Downie, Penrose, and Richardson. Argues that the classical‐capabilities view of the firm can be seen as a theory of firm boundaries. States that the make‐or‐buy decision may in fact hinge on production‐cost considerations, contrary to the spirit of standard transaction‐cost economics.
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