Transaction Cost Economics: The Precursors

8 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2008

See all articles by Oliver E. Williamson

Oliver E. Williamson

University of California, Berkeley - Business & Public Policy Group


Theories commonly progress through four stages, from informal to pre-formal to semi-formal and fully formal. This paper reports on the earliest stage of transaction cost economics that extended from the 1920s to the 1970s. That the gestation stage lasted so long is partly because transaction cost economics departed significantly from the then-prevailing economic orthodoxy. Also, and related, it is an interdisciplinary undertaking. As reported herein, transaction cost economics selectively combines economics, organisation theory and law and is the product of the contributions of some of the finest minds in those three fields.

Suggested Citation

Williamson, Oliver E., Transaction Cost Economics: The Precursors. Economic Affairs, Vol. 28, Issue 3, pp. 7-14, September 2008, Available at SSRN: or

Oliver E. Williamson (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Business & Public Policy Group ( email )

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