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The Mechanisms of Governance


  • Williamson, Oliver E.

    (University of California at Berkeley)


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Williamson, Oliver E., 1999. "The Mechanisms of Governance," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195132601.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxp:obooks:9780195132601

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Krugman, Paul, 1980. "Vehicle Currencies and the Structure of International Exchange," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 12(3), pages 513-526, August.
    3. Menzie Chinn & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 2007. "Will the Euro Eventually Surpass the Dollar as Leading International Reserve Currency?," NBER Chapters,in: G7 Current Account Imbalances: Sustainability and Adjustment, pages 283-338 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Eichengreen, Barry & Livia, Chitu & Mehl, Arnaud, 2014. "Stability or upheaval? The currency composition of international reserves in the long run," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 201, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    5. Rousseau, Peter L. & Sylla, Richard, 2005. "Emerging financial markets and early US growth," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-26, January.
    6. Decorzant, Yann & Flores, Juan-Huitzi, 2012. "Public borrowing in harsh times : the League of Nations Loans revisited," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH wp12-07, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
    7. Jong-Wha Lee, 2014. "Will the Renminbi Emerge as an International Reserve Currency?," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(1), pages 42-62, January.
    8. Chiţu, Livia & Eichengreen, Barry & Mehl, Arnaud, 2014. "When did the dollar overtake sterling as the leading international currency? Evidence from the bond markets," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 225-245.
    9. Barry Eichengreen & Livia Chiu & Arnaud Mehl, 2016. "Network effects, homogeneous goods and international currency choice: New evidence on oil markets from an older era," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 49(1), pages 173-206, February.
    10. Eswar S. Prasad, 2015. "The Dollar Trap: How the U.S. Dollar Tightened Its Grip on Global Finance," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 10182-2.
    11. Barry Eichengreen, 2013. "ADB Distinguished Lecture Renminbi Internationalization: Tempest in a Teapot?," Asian Development Review, MIT Press, vol. 30(1), pages 148-164, March.
    12. Vincent Castel & Martha Phiri & Marco Stampini, 2010. "Working Paper 110 - Education and Employment in Malawi," Working Paper Series 247, African Development Bank.
    13. Yung Chul Park & Chi-Young Song, 2011. "Renminbi Internationalization: Prospects and Implications for Economic Integration in East Asia," Asian Economic Papers, MIT Press, vol. 10(3), pages 42-72, Fall.
    14. Subramanian Arvind & Kessler Martin, 2013. "The Renminbi Bloc is Here: Asia Down, Rest of the World to Go?," Journal of Globalization and Development, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 49-94, August.
    15. Paul R. Krugman, 1984. "The International Role of the Dollar: Theory and Prospect," NBER Chapters,in: Exchange Rate Theory and Practice, pages 261-278 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    17. Agnès Bénassy-Quéré & Jean Pisani-Ferry, 2011. "The Long March Towards a Multipolar Monetary Regime," La Lettre du CEPII, CEPII research center, issue 308.
    18. David, Paul A. & Bunn, Julie Ann, 1988. "The economics of gateway technologies and network evolution: Lessons from electricity supply history," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 165-202.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rota, Cosimo & Zanasi, Cesare & Reynolds, Nikolai, 2014. "Assessing the Impact of Sustainability Improvement Options on the Agri-food Supply Chain Governance Structures: Development of an Evaluation Tool," International Journal on Food System Dynamics, International Center for Management, Communication, and Research, vol. 5(3).
    2. Vahabi, Mehrdad, 2003. "La contrainte budgétaire lâche et la théorie économique
      [Soft Budget Constraint and Economic Theory]
      ," MPRA Paper 17651, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Cristina DÂ’Andrea & Maria Luce Mariniello & Tiziana Vitolo, 2005. "Sustainability of economic development and governance patterns in water management - an overview on the reorganisation of public utilities in Campania, Italy, under EU Framework Directive in the field," ERSA conference papers ersa05p605, European Regional Science Association.
    4. Raúl O'Ryan, 2002. "Fusiones y poder de mercado en la industria mundial del cobre," Documentos de Trabajo 149, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
    5. Vahabi, Mehrdad, 2008. "Protection costs, transaction costs,and economic theory," MPRA Paper 17648, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Gomes Lages, André Maia & Brandão Guerreiro Barbosa, Luciano Celso, 2007. "A Comercialização dos Produtos Orgânicos na Feira Agroecológica de Maceió/AL: Uma Avaliação sob a Lógica da Teoria dos Custos de Transação
      [The Marketing of Organic Products at the Agroecological F
      ," MPRA Paper 29373, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Hai, Do Phu & Roig-Dobón, Salvador & Sánchez-García, José Luis, 2016. "Innovative governance from public policy unities," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(4), pages 1524-1528.
    8. Bachev, Hrabrin, 2010. "Study on Agrarian Contracts in Bulgaria," MPRA Paper 22946, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Bachev, Hrabrin, 2010. "Agro-Ecosystem Services – Governance Needs and Efficiency," MPRA Paper 25978, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Rota, Cosimo & Zanasi, Cesare & Reynolds, Nikolai, 2014. "Assessing the Supply Chain Governance Scenario in the Agri-food Sector: Development of a Measurement Tool," 2014 International European Forum, February 17-21, 2014, Innsbruck-Igls, Austria 199341, International European Forum on Innovation and System Dynamics in Food Networks.
    11. Aric Rindfleisch & Kersi Antia & Janet Bercovitz & James Brown & Joseph Cannon & Stephen Carson & Mrinal Ghosh & Susan Helper & Diana Robertson & Kenneth Wathne, 2010. "Transaction costs, opportunism, and governance: Contextual considerations and future research opportunities," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 21(3), pages 211-222, September.

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