The Mechanisms of Governance

The Mechanisms of Governance

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This book brings together in one place the work of one of our most respected economic theorists, on a field which he has played a large part in originating: the New Institutional Economics. Transaction cost economics, which studies the governance of contractual relations, is the branch of the New Institutional Economics with which Oliver Williamson is especially associated. Transaction cost economics takes issue with one of the fundamental building blocks in microeconomics: the theory of the firm. Whereas orthodox economics describes the firm in technological terms, as a production function, transaction cost economics describes the firm in organizational terms, as a governance structure. Alternative feasible forms of organization-firms, markets, hybrids, bureaus-are examined comparatively. The analytical action resides in the details of transactions and the mechanisms of governance. Transaction cost economics has had a pervasive influence on current economic thought about how and why institutions function as they do, and it has become a practical framework for research in organizations by representatives of a variety of disciplines.
Through a transaction cost analysis, The Mechanisms of Governance shows how and why simple contracts give way to complex contracts and internal organization as the hazards of contracting build up. That complicates the study of economic organization, but a richer and more relevant theory of organization is the result. Many testable implications and lessons for public policy accrue to this framework. Applications of both kinds are numerous and growing. Written by one of the leading economic theorists of our time, The Mechanisms of Governance is sure to be an important work for years to come. It will be of interest to scholars and students of economics, organization, management, and law.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 441 pages
  • 157.48 x 233.68 x 25.4mm | 635.03g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Repr.
  • line figures
  • 0195132602
  • 9780195132601
  • 612,583

Review quote

"The Mechanisms of Governance is...a valuable summing up of both an especially influential body of work and the career of a great economist."-Business History Review "Even those who have read most of it could benefit from reading it again as a whole. Williamson's accomplishments are many. He is preeminent in his field. One could almost say that he is the field."-Journal of Economic Issues "...a work of scholarship written for posterity by one of the leading social scientists of our time. [It] should achieve the status of a classsic text quickly.... [Williamson] provides a conceptual framework simple enough to be used and yet exact and complex enough to accommodate continuing insights into the workings of organizations."-Academy of Management Review "The Mechanisms of Governance is sure to be of interest to all who study economics, organization, management, and law. Moreover, it contains new and useful insights for any manager who wants to stay on the leading edge of economic theory."-Cal Business
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About Oliver E. Williamson

Oliver E. Williamson is the Edgar F. Kaiser Professor of Business, Professor of Economics, and Professor of Law at the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of numerous works in which law, economics, and organization are joined.
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Table of contents

Prologue ; PART I: OVERVIEW ; 2. Chester Barnard and the Incipient Science of Organization ; 3. Transaction Cost Economics ; PART II: CONCEPTS AND APPLICATIONS ; 4. Comparative Economic Organization: The Analysis of Discrete Strucutural Alternatives ; 5. Credible Commitments: Using Hostages to Support Exchange ; 6. Economic Institutions: Spontaneous and Intentional Governance ; 7. Corporate Finance and Corporate Governance ; 8. The Politics and Economics of Redistribution and Inefficiency ; PART III: ORGANIZATIONS ; 9. Transaction Cost Economics and Organization Theory ; 10. Calculativeness, Trust, and Economic Organization ; PART IV: PUBLIC POLICY ; 11. Delimiting Antitrust ; 12. Strategizing, Economizing, and Economic Organization ; 13. The Institutions and Governance of Economic Development and Reform ; PART V: CONTROVERSY AND PERSPECTIVES ; 14. Transaction Cost Economics Meets Posnerian Law and Economics ; 15. Transaction Cost Economics and the Evolving Science of Organization ; Glossary
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Rating details

23 ratings
3.78 out of 5 stars
5 39% (9)
4 17% (4)
3 26% (6)
2 17% (4)
1 0% (0)
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