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By Fabrizio Traù (auth.)

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This brings us to a question which has been at the root of the more general debate about the existence of a “managerial” limitation to the size of the firm for some considerable time. The question relates to the fact that a trade-off can be assumed as being constantly at work between the firm’s capability to raise efficiency (to lower costs) and its ability to carry out its activities at a given scale. Such a trade-off stems from the existence of a basic (exogenous) constraint depending on the availability of internal managerial resources, which at any one time sets a structural limit to the efficiency which can be achieved in the face of the need for constantly adjusting to changing market conditions.

For TC theories to work in this connection, then, we should find that the gains from “using the market” had indeed risen considerably, over the same period (at least in relative terms), throughout the industrialized world. Or, alternatively, the organizational capability of (efficiently) governing internal transactions must have fallen. In the face of rising competition and market uncertainty, how could a (relatively) higher efficiency of the “market option” have been achieved? As far as the first issue is concerned, it would appear almost tautological to say that – inasmuch as the degree of market regulation in most countries has been gradually eroded in the same years as vertical disintegration has taken place – the widening of market transactions is only one consequence of stronger competition.

24 The reversal of such a relationship involves a structural change in the growth prospects of the industrial sector. At least in terms of employment 18 Macroeconomics and the Size of Firms (that is, in terms of one input), the industrial base can expand only if growth is faster than technological progress. 25 While uncertainty discourages growth, increasing competitive pressure gradually forces out of business that part of the industrial sector which had been shielded hitherto by an exceptionally favourable market situation.

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