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Economics, Evolution and the State

Economics, Evolution and the State

The Governance of Complexity

Edited by Kurt Dopfer

This book focuses on the emerging field of evolutionary economic policy, highlighting the interface between the state, markets, and the evolutionary complexity of modern economies. The contributors explore the possibilities and limitations of governance, and provide a unique platform for the advancement of modern evolutionary economic theory.

Chapter 4: Historical Economics and Evolutionary Economic Policy – Coasean Perspectives

Matthias Klaes

Subjects: economics and finance, evolutionary economics


* Matthias Klaes INTRODUCTION The work of Ronald H. Coase is typically discussed in the context of the neoliberal approach of the younger Chicago School, in particular with reference to certain economic policy implications of the Coase Theorem, and to Coase’s preference for the market to coordinate economic activity. While Stephen Medema (1996, 1999) and others have drawn attention in the meanwhile to the difference between Coase’s work and George Stigler’s (1966) ‘Coase Theorem’, the relationship between Coase’s institutional analysis and ‘mainstream law and economics’ (Kerber 2000, pp. 149–56) has remained less clear. Coase counts as one of the co-founders of this subdiscipline, which seems to suggest a continuity with neoliberal positions such as Richard Posner’s. However, this reading would gloss over significant differences (Coase 1993; Williamson 1993). One can observe a similar appropriation of Coase’s work by the orthodox wing of the New Institutional Economics (Furubotn 1994). Given this threefold doctrinal canonisation of Coase’s work, his reception in evolutionary economics, which has been mostly critical, comes as no surprise. Not all authors share this critical reading. Nicolai Foss (1994), for example, has begun to speak of two Coasean traditions in order to draw out Coase’s potential for evolutionary economics. In the context of present debates on how an economic policy informed by the perspectives offered by evolutionary economics should look (Slembeck 1997, Wegner 1997, Hodgson 1999), this poses the question to what extent a re-evaluation of Coase’s work may offer a useful contribution to...

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