Disputes over the Definition of the Concept of An Enterprise
Purpose: The aim of the article is to indicate the methodological possibility of reconciling empiricist and phenomenalist views in the consideration of the concept of ‘an enterprise’ carried out within the framework of economic, management and organizational theory. Design/Methodology/Approach: The proposal is an attempt to use and generalise the hitherto achievements of these disciplines in the field of enterprise studies and takes into account the state of methodological reflection resulting from discussions on the grounds of contemporary empiricism and hermeneutics. Findings: The article is a presentation of various views in the discussion on the essence of the enterprise in the light of contemporary empiricism and hermeneutics. The ‘indefiniteness’ and ‘imprecision’ of the concept of ‘an enterprise’ or ‘a firm’, as it has been stated for example in the framework of the European Union law, confirms the validity of the statements of Gödel, Church, Lövenheim-Skolem as well as of the Duhem-Quine thesis, which are well known in the contemporary methodological thought. The practice of functioning of enterprises as entities of the market economy, the history of business as reflected in the ‘path of dependence’ and the analysis of the existing system of institutions mean that the disputes waged in the theory of economics and management about the essence of the enterprise as an empirically knowable entity may be effectively overcome on the grounds of the interpretative approach relevant to the phenomenalist methodology. The relaxation in the contemporary methodology of sciences of the rigours of traditional empiricism, especially in its restrictive form offered by neopositivism, and the introduction of phenomenological aspects in attempts to define the concept of ‘an enterprise’ as a multidimensional vector, whose components are certain sets of types of characteristics of different types of enterprises creates an opportunity on the ground of economic theory of enterprise to formulate empirically verifiable or falsifiable sentences. Practical Implications: The definition of the enterprise concept proposed in the article may be useful in legislative practice concerning the enterprise, its organisation and operation. Originality/Value: The article proposes a new way of defining the concept of ‘an enterprise’ using the achievements of empirical and phenomenalist theory of scientific cognition. This definition makes it possible to increase the precision of research within the economic theory of enterprise.