A Cognitive Theory of the Firm
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A Cognitive Theory of the Firm

Learning, Governance and Dynamic Capabilities

Bart Nooteboom

In this important and timely book, Bart Nooteboom develops and applies a social cognitive theory of firms and organizations with a focus on learning and innovation.
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Chapter 1: Purpose, Scope, Concepts and Positioning

Bart Nooteboom


INTRODUCTION In this book I develop and apply a social cognitive theory of firms and organizations, and of organization between organizations, with a focus on learning and innovation. Cognition here is a wide notion, going beyond rational inference, know-what and know-how, to include perception, interpretation, value judgements, morality, emotions and feelings. This introduction starts with the central research question of this book, a first sketch of an answer, and more detailed research questions. Second, to position the book in the literature, I discuss similarities and differences with respect to the most closely related, existing views of innovation and the firm, in particular Schumpeter’s views on resource creation, Penrose’s views on the growth of the firm, Williamson’s views on transaction costs, and evolutionary views from Nelson and Winter, W. McKelvey and Aldrich. Also, pointers are given to literature on cognitive science used in this book. Third, this chapter gives methodological and programmatic points of departure, and reasons to include a cognitive theory and a theory of meaning in the theory of the firm. Fourth, it offers definitions or characterizations of basic terms. Finally, I specify the structure of the book and give some guidance to readers. RESEARCH QUESTIONS This section states the central question of this book, gives a first sketch of an answer, and specifies more detailed research questions. Key Question and a First Sketch of an Answer The central, overarching question of this book is: what are the sources of innovation? Beyond the customary economic analysis of efficient utilization...

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