5004650: Theory of the Firm

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Semester:WS 20/21
Scheduled in semester:1
Semester Hours per Week / Contact Hours:40.0 L / 30.0 h
Self-directed study time:120.0 h

Module coordination/Lecturers


Doctoral degree programme in Business Economics (01.09.2008)


  • This module aims at fostering professional competences. In particular, an overview on theories of the firm is given in order to provide students with a profound background for better understanding the various current topics of their discipline. The set of theories dealt with in the course will continuously be reviewed and adapted. So far, the following theories of the firm are considered to be particularly relevant for all three doctoral programs currently being offered by the graduate school:
  • Introduction to the Theory of the Firm (Dr. Ferdinand Thies)
  • The Nature of the Firm and the Problem of Social Cost (Ass.Prof. Dr. Tanja Kirn)
  • Agency Theory (Prof. Dr. Marco Menicetti)
  • Transactioncost Theory (Dr. Martin Angerer)
  • Information Processing Theory (Prof. Dr. Jan vom Brocke)
  • Resource-based Theory of the Firm (Dr. Ferdinand Thies)
  • Knowledge-based Theory of the Firm (Dr. Ferdinand Thies)
  • Behavioral Theory of the Firm (Dr. Ferdinand Thies)

Lecture Goals

  • Basic understanding of the fundamental research questions connecting to the existence and boundaries of organizations
  • Basic understanding of the different approaches which try to explain the existence and boundaries of organizations from various perspectives.
  • Basic understanding of the underlying assumptions of these approaches.

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • gain an overview about various theories of the firm and their history
  • critically review and discuss different theories of the firm
  • apply theories of the firm as guiding theoretical framework to own thesis topic and research questions


Lectures Method

Lecture; self-study; presentation and paper by students

Admission Requirements



Buckley, P.J.; Michie, J. (eds.) (1996): Firms, Organizations and Contracts: A Reader in Industrial Organization, Oxford/New York Oxford Management Readers
Cyert, R. and March, J. (1963) The Behavioural Theory of the Firm. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Simon, H. A. (1991). Organization and Markets. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 5(2), 25-44.
Wernerfelt, B. (1984). "The Resource-Based View of the Firm." Strategic Management Journal 5(2): 171-180.
Barney, J. (1991). "Firm Resources and Sustained Competitive Advantage." Journal of Management 17(1): 99-120.
Grant, R.M. 1996. Toward a Knowledge-Based Theory of the Firm. In: Strategic Management Journal, 17(Winter Special Issue): 109-122.

Exam Modalities

The students will be assessed in this module through:

  • Paper (5000 - 7000 words)
  • Presentation of paper


  • PWW-DS_Theory of the Firm (WS 20/21, in Bewertung)