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From the new institutional economics to organization economics: with applications to corporate governance, government agencies, and legal institutions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 January 2010

University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States


This paper applies the principles of organization economics (an offshoot of organization theory and a cousin of the New Institutional Economics) to a variety of organizations, mainly public ones. Organization economics seeks to understand and improve the ways in which organizations overcome agency costs, information costs, and other obstacles to efficiency. The private organization discussed in the paper is the modern publicly held (that is, dispersed ownership) business corporation, and the particular problem on which I focus is excessive executive compensation as a symptom of weaknesses in corporate governance. I then discuss two public organizations involved in national security – the US intelligence ‘community’ (a kind of mega-organization) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in its role as the nation's principal domestic intelligence service. Both exhibit significant dysfunction that organization economics can help us to understand and overcome. I then discuss two types of public organization that have been more successful in overcoming obstacles to organizational efficiency: the judiciary of common law nations, such as the United States, and the very differently structured judiciary of civil law nations, such as France, Germany, and Japan.

Research Article
Copyright © The JOIE Foundation 2010

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