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Ronald Coase's impact on economics

  • MARY M. SHIRLEY (a1), NING WANG (a2) and CLAUDE MÉNARD (a3)

Abstract

Ronald Coase had a profound impact on scholarship worldwide, and not for his ideas alone. Coase's ideas about transaction costs, the nature of the firm, the role of government, and the problem of social cost have been hugely influential. Throughout his long life, he also worked to change the conduct of economics, urging economists to ground their conclusions in careful study of empirical reality rather than theories that work only on the blackboard. Less well known, perhaps, is his work to nurture and shape the emerging fields of law and economics and new institutional economics, or his support to young scholars studying institutional issues around the world. In his final years, he was preoccupied by the rapid transformation of China and the institutional structure of production. This article summarizes Coase's significant intellectual contributions to economics, pointing out along the way some of the traits that made him such a powerful thinker and exceptionally influential scholar.

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