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Chapter 2: Ronald Harry Coase
Steven G. Medema Introduction Ronald Harry Coase was born on December 29, 1910 in the London suburb of Willesden. An only child, Coase was educated at the Kilburn Grammar School and the London School of Economics (LSE), from which he graduated with a degree in commerce in 1932. Interestingly, Coase did not take a single economics course while he was at LSE, and he later suggested that this was to his benefit, in that it gave him ‘a freedom in thinking about economic problems which [he] might not otherwise have had’ (Coase 1990, p. 3). Coase is very quick to credit Arnold Plant’s role in his intellectual development, and says that Plant’s ‘main influence was in bringing me to see that there were many problems concerning business practices to which we had no satisfactory answer’ (Coase 1982a, p. 34, see also Coase 1986). Through Plant, he says, the students came to view the economic system as an essentially competitive one and to see many of the business practices attributed to the forces of monopoly as natural results of a competitive system (Kitch 1983, p. 214). As one moves through the pages of Coase’s career, one can see clearly the profound impression that these ideas, along with Plant’s approach of looking at real-world problems, made upon Coase. Upon completing his studies at LSE, Coase taught at the Dundee School of Economics and Commerce from 1932 to 1934, at the University of Liverpool, 1934–35 and at LSE, 1935–51. His time...
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