Sandro Montresor

New Insights on Innovation, Industry and the Nature of the Firm: Introduction and Assessment

  • Abstract

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The paper aims at flagging some new insights the innovation literature has recently offered to the economic analysis of the firm and of the industry. Using as "guide-posts" the three research papers of the present issue - written by some of the most notable scholars in the field - we argue that the economics of innovation has brought to the front concepts which turn out inescapable in addressing what Ronald Coase called the "nature of the firm". The existence of the firm, first of all, and its ontological nature find in such notions as capabilities and competencies crucial explanatory factors. The same holds true for the firm boundaries, whose definition can not prevent from strategic elements pertaining to the management of innovation. Last, but not least, the firm organization has been found to mirror several aspects of the firm involvement in product and process technological innovations. Accordingly, not only is innovation affected by the market structure firms and consumers contribute to determine. But it also becomes closely linked to the way firms compete among them and crucially affects the dynamics of the industries they operate in. Relying on Schumpeter's idea of the ubiquitous nature of the innovative process, these and other related insights become "normal" attributes of the nature of the firm and thus candidate as conceptual pillars of an "innovation theory of the firm" whose systematization is still diffuse but increasingly more urgent.

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