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Negotiating Transaction Cost Economics: Oliver Williamson and his audiences


  • Huáscar Fialho Pessali

    () (Department of Economics, Universidade Federal do Paraná)

  • Ramón G. Fernández

    () (Fundação Getúlio Vargas - São Paulo)


The article studies the interaction between Oliver Williamson and his audiences in the construction of Transaction Cost Economics (TCE). His attentiveness to the feedback from different groups has played a major role in the success of TCE. First we discuss briefly the relevance of rhetoric to the study of economics. Rhetoric stresses that economists talk not to a void, but to peers and lay people with their habits, interests, institutional conditionings and values. Using the toolbox of rhetoric we identify Williamson’s intended audiences. Next we discuss his lists of claimed antecedents and the changes made therein. We explore how those (changing) connections could possibly have incited different audiences. In what follows, we use citation data to delineate his actual readers. This helps compare intended and actual audiences as we close with a discussion of Williamson’s ability to modify his intended reader and widen the audience of TCE in the social sciences.

Suggested Citation

  • Huáscar Fialho Pessali & Ramón G. Fernández, 2006. "Negotiating Transaction Cost Economics: Oliver Williamson and his audiences," Working Papers 0048, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:fup:wpaper:0048
    Note: Creation Date corresponds to the year in which the paper was published on the Department of Economics website. The paper may have been written a small number of months before its publication date.

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. McCloskey, Donald N, 1983. "The Rhetoric of Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 481-517, June.
    2. Kenneth E. Boulding, 1971. "After Samuelson, Who Needs Adam Smith?," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 225-237, Fall.
    3. Robert Leonard, 1997. "Value, sign, and social structure: the 'game' metaphor and modern social science," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(2), pages 299-326.
    4. Quandt, Richard E, 1976. "Some Quantitative Aspects of the Economics Journal Literature," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages 741-755, August.
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