A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Bullet Points
| Peter Klein |
An alert reader directs me to slide 241 of the slide pack for Dick Langlois’s Economics of Organization course. Click the image below for a look. Dick seems to be raising the point that Williamson’s TCE (as well as other theories of economic organization) pays insufficient attention to the processes by which firms reach their “optimal” organizational structures. TCE holds that firms try to minimize (or should minimize) the sum of production and transaction costs. But do firms actually do this? Do they make mistakes? Do they experiment and learn? Is the selection environment strong enough that inefficient organizational choices are quickly eliminated, or do inefficiencies persist? (The problem is particularly important for empirical literature on organizational form — see pp. 440-42 of this paper.) Or, can we assume, with Dr. Pangloss, that whatever is, is optimal?
To illustrate the point, Dick includes a photo of Williamson giving a seminar, with some additional background art — an etching from Candide — added to the frame. If you’re not paying attention you might think the etching is part of the original. I give Dick points for cleverness, but my anonymous correspondent finds the illustration a bit too subliminal. What do you think?