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Article

Discrete institutional alternatives: theoretical and policy issues (celebrating the 80th anniversary of Ronald Coase’s “Nature of the firm”)

Russian Journal of Economics. 2017. Vol. 3. No. 2. P. 200-220.
Shastitko A., Menard C.

This paper addresses the comparative analysis of discrete institutional alternatives in organizing transactions among distinct economic entities. The theoretical framework for understanding this issue was introduced by Ronald Coase 80 years ago. Following this seminal contribution, a standard theoretical distinction now exists between the institution­ ally embedded set of economic exchanges (the transactions) and the institutional settings within which these transactions are organized, firms and markets being the epitomized polar cases. On the normative side, this approach facilitated better understanding of fail­ ures and flaws in the organization of numerous transactions and of how to fix them. Three examples are provided to illustrate the issues at stake: contracting on large diameter pipes for PJSC “Gazprom” infrastructure projects, contracting in commercial real estate, and determining governance mechanisms for companies facing significant switching costs in highly concentrated markets.