Insegnamento a.a. 2011-2012



Department of Management and Technology

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 21
EMIT (8 credits - II sem. - OB  |  5 credits SECS-P/06  |  3 credits SECS-P/08)
Course Director:

Classes: 21 (II sem.)

Course Objectives

In recent years, firm theory has grown into one of the most dynamic and fast changing fields of strategic, organizational, cognitive and economic research. Apparently naive questions such as "What is a firm?", "What do firms do?", "What does explain firms' boundaries?", "What do managers really do?" have received enormous attention in disciplines as different as strategy, innovation management, economic history, economics, organizational theory. All these developments build upon very practical concerns: what role is left to firms in the globalized knowledge economy? Do they still have a role to play or will they be superseded by the emergence of networks of specialized companies? How do firms coordinate and control increasingly dispersed networks of suppliers? This course aims at providing the students with the intellectual tools and the analytical skills to understand recent developments in firm theory across multiple disciplines. The course focuses on developments in the resource based view of the firm, transaction cost economics, knowledge-based theories, network approaches, dynamic capabilities, resource dependence theories etc. This course offers both traditional lectures and interactive sessions to allow students to understand both the theoretical underpinnings and the practical implications of the concepts they are introduced to.

Course Content Summary

Part I – The main building blocks

Economic theories of the firm

  • Corporate governance
  • Incomplete contracts
  • Principal-Agent approaches
  • Transaction Cost Economics

Managerial theories of the firm

  • Dynamic capabilities
  • Resource-based View
  • Resource dependence theory

Behavioural and cognitive approaches

  • Evolutionary firm theory
  • Cognitive approaches
  • Configurational approaches

Part II – Do we still need a theory of the firm?

  • Open innovation
  • Markets for technologies
  • Modularization and systems integration

Part III – Advanced topics in firm theory

  • A series of current research issues are discussed on the basis of articles and cases.

Detailed Description of Assessment Methods

Written, at the end of the course.


A selection of relevant research articles is made available to all students at the beginning of the course.

Exam textbooks & Online Articles (check availability at the Library)
Last change 30/03/2011 12:00