Chapter 3: On the issue of realism in the economics of institutions and organizations: themes from Coase and Richardson
Uskali Mäki I INTRODUCTION As suggested on an earlier occasion, the new economics of institutions and organizations deserves special attention by those who are interested in methodological issues in economics (Mäki, 1993b). There appears to be an opportunity for mutual beneﬁt from a closer contact between economic methodology and this broad and varied ﬁeld of economics. On the one hand, like many other young and burgeoning ﬁelds, the new economics of institutions abounds with intriguing methodological issues awaiting the touch of methodologists equipped with sophisticated tools of meta-analysis. Contributions to the resolution of these open methodological issues may turn out to be contributions towards the resolution of some of the more substantive issues in the ﬁeld at large. On the other hand, economic methodology as a semi-autonomous subﬁeld of study is in need of reorientation, and for this it needs to develop more intimate forms of interaction between methodological theory and the substance of economics. One way of accomplishing this is to acquire empirical evidence pertaining to economics by looking more closely at what economists in this thriving ﬁeld are doing, what their theories are like, and how they themselves perceive the nature of their endeavour. Most practitioners in the economics of institutions and organizations share a concern for realisticness of theories. This chapter suggests steps towards an analysis of this concern by examining the ideas of two modern classics in the ﬁeld, Ronald Coase and George Richardson. There is much that these economists share. First,...
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