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The Nature of the Religious Firm

Richard A. Epstein


This article applies general principles of the firm to religious organizations. First, I offer a short account of the formation of the firm that takes its cue from Ronald Coase, extending that analysis to explain the formation, operation, modification, and liquidation of the firm. Second, I examine how that analysis extends to nonprofit organizations, exploring how religious organizations both follow and diverge from the structure of traditional business firms. Third, I examine the special organizational features of religious organizations. Fourth, I examine what forms of government regulation assist or hamper these religious organizations. In general, the right regulatory answer is a legal regime that respects internal governance norms but protects outsiders against actionable externalities.

Richard A. Epstein, "The Nature of the Religious Firm," Journal of Markets & Morality 21, no. 1 (Spring 2018): 141-166

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