Advances in New Institutional Analysis series
Edited by Claude Ménard and Michel Ghertman
Claude Ménard On a sunny week of June 2007, a small group of economists locked themselves in a meeting room in Nice for a workshop intended to prepare a book on regulatory issues in order to express their deep admiration for Oliver E. Williamson, his work, and the stream of research he has inspired in that area. However, in preparing the meeting as well as this book, Michel Ghertman and I did not intend to deliver a traditional festschrift. We rather wanted the authors to explore some of the avenues opened by Professor Williamson, and to introduce new ideas and perspectives. In order to make this possible, we restricted the audience to the contributors, so as to facilitate extensive discussions and exchanges. After the conference, all chapters were rewritten, submitted to referees, and revised (several of them more than once). The strong red thread interweaving the different contributions thus prepared comes from transaction costs economics and, more generally, from new institutional economics and the powerful tools it provides for analysing public policies. Regulatory issues offer a particularly favourable ground in that respect. The deregulation movement that developed since the early 1980s, the controversies it has raised and that it continues to face, and the obstacles encountered in the reforms of public utilities that it epitomizes, can gain enormously, on both theoretical and empirical sides, in using transaction cost lenses. At the same time, diverging experiences in different countries and different sectors have substantially enriched our experience and our databases,...