Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Surveying the Transaction Cost Foundations of New Institutional Economics: A Critical Inquiry


Author Info

  • Giorgos Meramveliotakis
  • Dimitris Milonakis
Registered author(s):


    The purpose of this article is to appraise the analytical usefulness of the new institutionalist approach by investigating the explanatory capacity of the transaction cost concept. After a discussion of the problems of defining the concept of transaction costs through the identification of three different uses of the term found in the literature, we turn to the problems associated with the analytical distinction between the institutional environment and organizations as players of the game, and more specifically to the treatment of organizations as individual actors. Further, it is shown that transaction costs as a concept is inherently unqualified for operationalization. Last, we examine the usefulness of the transaction cost concept in explaining the emergence of organizations by focusing on two specific cases, Coase's and Williamson's theories of the firm. Our conclusion is that the transaction cost concept cannot provide a sufficient rationale for explaining either the emergence of institutions or the origins of organizations given its static, ahistorical and universalistic nature.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by M.E. Sharpe, Inc. in its journal Journal of Economic Issues.

    Volume (Year): 44 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 4 (December)
    Pages: 1045-1072

    as in new window
    Handle: RePEc:mes:jeciss:v:44:y:2010:i:4:p:1045-1072

    Contact details of provider:
    Web page:

    Related research

    Keywords: firm; institutions; organizations; power; transaction costs;


    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.



    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


    Access and download statistics


    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mes:jeciss:v:44:y:2010:i:4:p:1045-1072. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Ian Winship) or (Chris Nguyen).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.