A Review of Claude Menard and Elodie Bertrand

The Elgar Companion to Ronald H. Coase

Originally published in EH.net

As Ronald Coase stated in his Nobel Prize Address, “the main activity of economists, it seems to me, has been to fill the gaps in Adam Smith’s system, to correct his errors, and to make his analysis vastly more exact” (1992: 713). Coase’s contributions, as highlighted by the excellent contributions put together in this volume, have drawn economists’ attention away from what Coase referred to as “blackboard economics” (1992: 714) and towards empirical observation of the “institutional structure” within which exchange and production take place. From his earliest work on the theory of the firm to his study of China’s transition to capitalism, The Elgar Companion to Ronald H. Coase emphasizes Coase’s particular attention to institutional detail in explaining exchange behavior in all of its diversity. Compiled in twenty-five chapters divided into five parts, editors Claude Ménard and Elodie Bertrand have gathered contributors to this volume ranging from Nobel Laureates in Economics, such as Kenneth Arrow and Oliver Williamson, to Coase’s intellectual biographer, Steve Medema, to Ning Wang, Coase’s co-author on his last book, How China Became Capitalist.

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