Invited eminent scientist (name, title and affiliation, nationality)
Oliver E. Williamson
Duration of the stay
Edgar F. Kaiser Professor Emeritus of Business, Economics, and Law University of California, Berkeley
United States of America
From October 14 to October 23, 2010 (10 days)
Description of and results from the invitation
During his stay in Japan, Professor Williamson spoke at length at two universities and one international research organization. He also engaged in multifaceted discussions with academics in a variety of fields.
(1) Symposium at Gakushuin University: “Defining the Agenda for the Next Decade of Research on Economic Governance"
The symposium engaged Professor Williamson in presentations and discussions in a way that leveraged his many contributions and deep understanding to help prioritize research directions for this decade and beyond. In the spirit of Professor Williamson’s approach, the symposium encouraged interdisciplinary dialogue and sought to identify relevant, concrete, and tractable research problems and methods that promise to further our understanding of behavior under bounded rationality and incomplete information, transaction costs, contracts, governance mechanisms, organizations, law and economics, institutions including formal and informal law, public policy toward business.
The symposium featured three distinguished speakers. In the first presentation, Professor Hideshi Itoh (Hitotsubashi) argued for broadening the view of the function of a contract beyond the mere supply of court-enforceable rules of engagement between the parties. In the second presentation, Professor Masahiko Aoki (Stanford) presented a rich analytical framework for understanding the relationship between corporate organizational architecture and the distribution of cognitive assets between management and workers. In the final presentation, Professor Williamson urged more coupling between theory and empirical work and emphasized bureaucracy and entrepreneurship as the two most pressing and promising directions of future governance research.
The symposium was attended by approximately 170 participants, mostly from universities and government and private research organizations, including many graduate students.
(2) Address at Kobe University: “Be disciplined. Be interdisciplinary. Have an active mind”
Over 350 undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty gathered at the historic Idemitsu Sazo Memorial Rokkodai Auditorium to hear Prof. Williamson recount his early career and steps to success. Cooperation between the Faculties of Law and Economics at Kobe University has been a special feature of Kobe University for many years, and Prof. Williamson’s address helped inspire more students to pursue studies and research in Law and Economics. Prof. Akira Saito (Graduate School of Law) and Prof. Takashi Yanagawa (Graduate School of Economics) organized this event.
(3) Distinguished Speaker Seminar at the Asian Development Bank Institute: “Public and Private Bureaucracies: The Transaction Cost Economics Perspective"
This seminar at the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) brought together an audience of about 80 government and private-sector participants, many of whom are working on policy issues of developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region. One of such issues is to need to create the institutions of intellectual property to encourage technology-based economic growth, an area where Prof. Williamson’s transaction costs framework is highly applicable. By presenting his framework and emphasizing the rich variety of non-market alternatives, Prof. Williamson challenged policy analysts to a broader conception of the problems and possible solutions.
Contributions to the Host Institute
As the hosting institution, Gakushuin University benefitted by engaging its faculty and graduate students in the symposium with Prof. Williamson. Faculty and graduate students from Economics, Management, Law, Political Science, and other departments attended and/or helped with organizing the symposium. This stimulated new channels of communication across neighboring fields within the university as well as with researchers from other universities, and contributed to the ongoing effort to globalize the university’s outreach.