Another Voice in the (Contracts) Wilderness
| Mike Sykuta |
I have always been a bit reticent when it comes to blogging, as Peter (and my friend Thom Lambert over at Truth on the Market) can attest. But I’ve come to realize not everyone posts at the (obviously OCD-induced) rate that Peter does, and as a guest there is certainly less pressure to keep up with the Joneses . . . or the Kleins anyhow. Thanks, Peter, for your persistence and continued offer to join in the fun. I have long enjoyed lurking around O&M and posting an occasional comment or two.
As Peter mentioned, I am the Director and one of the co-founders of the Contracting and Organizations Research Institute (CORI). CORI was formed in 2000 as a collaborative effort with my colleague Steve Ferris in Finance and former colleague Bob Lawless in (ironically) the Law School. The purpose was to provide a forum for interdisciplinary discussion and research on issues of law, economics, and organization. Since then, we’ve been able to bring in additional faculty positions related to CORI and help recruit other new faculty with aligned interests to create a fairly large group of scholars with complementary, and in some cases congruent, research interests.
Although CORI was formally created in 2000, its roots go back to a conference organized by Ronald Coase and sponsored by the Olin and Bradley foundations at the University of Chicago Law School in June 1990, titled “Contracts and the Activities of Firms.” The proceedings of the conference were published in a special issue of the Journal of Law & Economics (Oct 1990, Pt. 2). Ken Lehn, chief economist at the US Securities and Exchange Commission at the time, was one of the participants. When Ken joined the Katz Business School at the University of Pittsburgh in 1991, he worked with Coase to establish the Center for Research on Contracts and the Structure of Enterprise (CRCSE). Yours truly was eventually hired as Associate Director of the CRCSE in 1994 to spearhead an effort to create a library of contracts that could be used by scholars for empirical research on the use and structure of contracts.
After moving to Missouri in 1998 and falling in with my co-conspirators Ferris and Lawless, we worked with Coase and Lehn to bring the CRCSE’s contracts library project under the umbrella of CORI. The CORI K-Base now includes almost 700,000 contracts, most obtained from corporate disclosure filings. The contracts are accessible via full-text and defined category search queries. And while the primary purpose of the K-Base remains academic scholarship, a plurality of its users is lawyers and other business professionals. I’ll share more about the K-Base and opportunities for scholars to use it as well as to contribute to its value in another posting.
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