Signifying Williamson’s Contribution to the Transaction Cost Approach: An Agent-Based Simulation of Coasean Transaction Costs and Specialization

This article simulates Ronald Coase’s transaction cost approach to firm organizing using agent-based modelling, and contextualizes and contrasts it with a division-of-labour/specialization view of the firm that Coase challenged and sought to replace. The simulation tests the firm formation process based on the different implications of transaction costs and specialization as drivers of integration, focusing especially on Coase’s rejection of specialization as an explanation for integration in the firm. The results show little support for, and suggest an important shortcoming to, Coase’s transaction cost theory. My findings thereby indicate a potential relationship between the specialization theory and Williamson’s Transaction Cost Economics, especially the latter’s emphasis on co-specialization through relationship-specific investments, which helps shed light on TCE’s significant influence in the theory of the firm literature.

Journal or Publication:
Journal of Management Studies
Per L. Bylund
Year Published
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