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Behavioral Theory of the Firm Paperback – 2 Dec 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; Revised edition (2 Dec. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631174516
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631174516
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 541,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

A Behavioral Theory of the Firm has become a classic work in organizational theory, looking inside the firm to develop new theoretical ideas abnout economic behavior.  The second edition reaffirms the seminal arguments and insights of the first and puts the original text in its contemporary context.

Rejecting the portrayal of the firm found in classical economic theory, the authors focus on the actual behavior of business firms.  Their ideas, which have influenced students of organizations throughout the social sciences, capture the fundamentals of organizational decision making, offering important perspectives not only on economic organizations but also on governmental agencies and educational institutions.

For students and specialists the second edition of this pathbreaking book offers the original theory along with an examination of work that has taken place since the book was originally published.  It provides a new statement of some of the more significant modern ideas for understanding the firm as an organization.

About the Author

Richard Cyert is President of the Carnegie Bosch Institute at the Carnegie Mellon University. He is also author/co–author of numerous books and has published over 100 articles in economics, management and behavioral sciences.

James March is Fred H Merrill Professor of Management, and Professor of Political Science and Sociology at Stanford University. He has jointly written many books and has written numerous articles on the subject of behavioral science.


Inside This Book

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First Sentence
In a modern market society, economic decisions on price, output, product lines, product mix, resource allocation, and other standard economic variables are made not by individual entrepreneurs but by a complex of private and public institutions. Read the first page
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gerard Kroese on 11 Dec. 2008
Format: Paperback
Richard M. Cyert is Professor of Economics and Management at Carnegie Mellon University. James G. March is Professor of Management and Professor of Political Science and Sociology at Stanford University. This book was originally published in 1963 and consists of 9 chapters with a short introduction and preface. This 2nd edition published in 1992 adds an epilogue.

The authors start clearly in the Introduction: "This book is about the business firm and the way it makes economic decisions. We propose to make detailed observations and to use these observations as a basis for a theory of decision making within business organizations." In the second chapter Cyert and March introduce some of the problems with the original theory of the firm and organization theory and introduce their approach to explain the behaviour of business firms with respect to economic decisions.

The authors provide some partial answers in the 3 following chapters in which they consider organizational goals (chapter 3), organizational expectations (chapter 4), organizational choice and (to a limited extent) organizational control (chapter 5). This section is concluded with a skeleton of their basic theory of organizational choice and control upon which one can develop an explicit model of organizational decision making. The first model of price and output is already given in chapter 5 and in chapter 6 Cyert and March introduce a model of price setting in a department store.

Chapter 7 introduces a summary of the basic concepts in the behavioural theory of the firm which is based on 2 major organizing devices.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Feb. 2001
Format: Paperback
Cyert and March are the first that try to look into the firm instead of just taking the firm as it is like the monopoly model and so forth. It tries to bring reality into their model by describing factors they derived from doing case studies of 4 multinational firms and 2 stimulation experiments. It describes the firm as a coalition with conflicting goals. The conflicting goals are the result of 'aspiration levels' ie, expectations, past success and personal information of the individuals in the parties. And that the firm is not a profit-maximizing instead are satisficing. This means that the firm has other goals that it wishes to fulfill and not just profit maximize. The ruling party in the coalition holds all the parties together in the form of orgaisational slack, which is 'side-payments' to keep the parties happy. The process of decision making as to what to satisfice in the firm is mainly determined in the budget and bargaining skill and past performance affects the outcome of the budget for the various parties in the firm. But the theory does not take into account of external forces like competition from firms, potential entry or fear of take-over. That might be because when they formulated the theory, the multinational companies did not face international pressures, they could produce the amount they need. So the model is more applicable for organisations that do not face external pressures like hospitals.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 13 Feb. 2001
Format: Paperback
It is a well-written book on the theories of the firm especially on the concept of technology. It has opposing views from that of Baumol in his managerial theory of the firm. Its a book that must be read if one is doing economics of organisation.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Decision-making within organizations 17 July 2008
By Gerard Kroese - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Richard M. Cyert is Professor of Economics and Management at Carnegie Mellon University. James G. March is Professor of Management and Professor of Political Science and Sociology at Stanford University. This book was originally published in 1963 and consists of 9 chapters with a short introduction and preface. This 2nd edition published in 1992 adds an epilogue.

The authors start clearly in the Introduction: "This book is about the business firm and the way it makes economic decisions. We propose to make detailed observations and to use these observations as a basis for a theory of decision making within business organizations." In the second chapter Cyert and March introduce some of the problems with the original theory of the firm and organization theory and introduce their approach to explain the behaviour of business firms with respect to economic decisions.

The authors provide some partial answers in the 3 following chapters in which they consider organizational goals (chapter 3), organizational expectations (chapter 4), organizational choice and (to a limited extent) organizational control (chapter 5). This section is concluded with a skeleton of their basic theory of organizational choice and control upon which one can develop an explicit model of organizational decision making. The first model of price and output is already given in chapter 5 and in chapter 6 Cyert and March introduce a model of price setting in a department store.

Chapter 7 introduces a summary of the basic concepts in the behavioural theory of the firm which is based on 2 major organizing devices. First, a set of exhaustive variable categories (goals, expectations, choice) and, second, a set of relational concepts (quasi resolution of conflict, uncertainty avoidance, problemistic search and organizational learning). "We think that these concepts will prove useful in dealing with organizational decision making as it is reflectd in business firms."

Chapter 8 serves as a concluding chapter and explains that the theory of the firm serves four major purposes within the framework of economic theory: (1) a method for decision making; (2) a prescription for decision making; (3) a description of behaviour of certain aggregates of firms; and (4) a tool for deciding among some alternative economic policies. Each of these purposes are discussed in detail.

In the final chapter Cyert and March attempt to place the preceding chapters into a contract of developments subsequent to the original publication. "In the first section, we describe the main ideas on which the book was built, key themes in behavioural studies of the firm. In the second section, we discuss developments in the economic analysis of the firm since 1963 ... In the third section, we discuss developments in the behavioural study of decision making in organizations."

This was a monumental piece of research in the early 1960s and, yes, the authors admit "that they may not have it all quite right. Yet.", but is still pretty much up to date especially with the adjustments made for the 1992-edition. It provides great insights into decision making within business firms. I have read this book with great interest and enjoyment. I can recommend this book all managers and people interested in decision making and organizational behaviour.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Essential book for my interest, yet the writing is rather hard to understand. 19 Dec. 2012
By Marian Wen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a really basic book for my interest, and I've been searching for it for quite a long time. I like the simulation part quite a lot. However, as a non-native speaker, the write-up is a little obscure for me.
11 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Selected quotations 25 Feb. 2002
By Juan Canales - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
We start with the simple conception that an organizational decision is the execution of a choice made in terms of objectives from among a set of alternatives on the basis of available information. This leads to the examination of how orgnizational objectives are formed, how strategies are evolved, and how decisions are reached within those strategies." (Pg 19)
Major subtheories for a behavioral theory of the firm: theories of organizational goals, org expectations, org choice and org. control.
Conception of organization: "It is a coalition of individuals, some of them organized into subcoalitions."... " any theory of organizational goals must deal succesfully with the obvious potential for internal goal conflict inherent in a colalition of diverse individuals and groups" (Pg 27)
The goal formation process for a coalition:
1.- bargaining process by which the composition and general terms of the coalition are fixed
2.- the internal organizational proceses of control by which objectives are stabilized and elaborated
3.- the proecess of adjustement to esperience by which coalition agreements are altered in responseto environmental changes.
" We have argued that the goals of a business firm are a series of more or less independent constraints imposed on the organization through a process of bargaining among potential coalition members and elaborated over time in response to short time pressures. Goals arise in such a form because the firm is, in fact, a coalition of participants with disparate demands, changing foci of attention, and limited ability to attend to all organization problems simultaneously" (pg 43)
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