Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Adaptation, Specialization, and the Theory of the Firm
Foundations of the Resource-Based View


  • Date Published: October 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107595781

£ 26.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • This invaluable book provides the foundations for a new theory of the firm, drawing on Birger Wernerfelt's landmark work on economic theory and the resource-based view of the firm. It addresses a vigorous and long-standing academic debate over what exactly a 'firm' is, both in the field of management and economics. Wernerfelt revisits his classic articles, including an extensively revised 'A Resource-Based View of the Firm' (1984), which have been updated and synthesized to provide precise and accessible concepts and predictions. By offering future directions for research and practice, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of management and economics alike.

    • Proposes a new theory of the firm by combining perspectives from economics and management literatures, and will be of interest to members of both communities
    • Builds on Wernerfelt's 'A Resource-Based View of the Firm' (1984), and will be of interest to most scholars in strategic management
    • Proposes a new theory of the firm that is based on standard assumptions, yet is consistent with the management literature
    • Will be of interest to economists working on the theory of the firm
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Birger Wernerfelt's work over the last thirty years has been enormously influential among management scholars but less so among economists. This book, which brings together and expands on many of Wernerfelt's papers, should redress the balance. Wernerfelt's theories of firms and organizations based on bargaining and adjustment costs are compelling and realistic, and economists have a great deal to learn from them.' Oliver Hart, Winner of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize in Economic Sciences, and Andrew E. Furer Professor of Economics, Harvard University, Massachusetts

    'Birger Wernerfelt is best known to management scholars as one of the key founders of strategy's dominant perspective, the resource-based view. However, Wernerfelt is also an extremely creative economist with a particular gift for building simple, rigorous, and very powerful models. As this book shows, his thinking on the nature of the firm has consistently evolved and developed into a unique perspective. It will be of direct relevance for scholars in fields such as strategy, organization theory, marketing and international business.' Nicolai J. Foss, Bocconi University, Italy

    'For decades now, questions about the existence and performance of firms have been examined in largely separate literatures. Building on his contributions to the resource-based view and adaptation cost theory, Wernerfelt shows that to understand why firms exist we must also understand why some firms outperform others. What emerges is an integrated approach that explains both firm existence and performance differences, an approach that is likely to be very influential in strategic and economic research for some time to come.' Jay B. Barney, Presidential Professor of Strategic Management, Eccles School of Business, University of Utah

    'This important book unifies two strands of Birger Wernerfelt's research that have heretofore been known to mainly separate audiences. His 'Resource-Based View' (1984) is a classic contribution to management. In contrast, Wernerfelt's recent papers on the 'Adaptation-Cost Theory' of the firm contribute to the economics literature launched by Coase and deepened by decades of subsequent research. Remarkably … the ACT not only motivates, develops and applies an important new source of exchange friction, it also provides the first unified account of the scope of firms, the size of markets, and the style of contracting - an impressive achievement and a high bar for future work. Most importantly, however, the RBV and the ACT can now be seen as two sides of the same coin; such dialogues and integrations between the management and economics literatures are enormously welcome. Robert S. Gibbons, Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107595781
    • length: 312 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.47kg
    • contains: 19 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Agenda:
    1. Introduction
    2. Preview: small forces, high frequencies, and large firms
    Part II. The Main Argument:
    3. Adaptation costs in one dimension: firms, contracts, and price lists
    4. Adaptation costs in three dimensions: firms, markets, and contracts
    5. All adaptations are not the same: the scope of firms and the size of markets
    6. Resources and the scope of the firm
    Part III. Implications:
    7. The allocation of asset ownership
    8. Communication within and between firms
    9. The power of incentives within and between firms
    10. Decision-making in large organizations
    Part IV. Empirical Tests:
    11. Bargaining costs: existence and sub-additivity
    12. Adaptation frequency and the boundary of the firm
    13. Asset ownership and externalities
    Part V. Foundations:
    14. Endogenously incomplete contracts
    15. Multiple equilibria and firm heterogeneity
    16. On the endogenous amplification of small differences
    Part VI. Postscript:
    17. Summary and final reflections

  • Author

    Birger Wernerfelt, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Birger Wernerfelt is the J. C. Penney Professor of Management at the Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Related Books

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.