By Claude Ménard and Mary M. Shirley
Younger institutional scholars often ask us: Where should I put my research efforts? What are the most important gaps in our knowledge of institutions? How are emerging technologies and new developments changing the frontier of institutional economics? How can I carry on the legacy of Coase, Ostrom, North, Williamson, and other founding thinkers, and make my own contribution?
This volume* provides some guidance on how to move forward. Drawing on a diverse group of authors, mainly from a new generation of institutionalists, 30 brief essays explore priority issues for future NIE research. Some chapters probe the frontiers of our knowledge of issues long at the forefront of NIE – government and politics, laws and norms, organizations and contracts. Others consider emerging questions in topics underexplored by NIE, such as religion, culture and beliefs, gender and the family. Another set of chapters examines areas where new technology is raising novel issues, such as the digital (or Uber) economy and its effects on labor institutions, social media and the challenge of fake news, blockchain and its institutional implications. Several chapters also deal with tools, techniques, and approaches, including how to measure institutions, use experiments, and exploit big data and machine learning.
It is an opportune moment to explore our future research agenda. An explosive rise in computing power, combined with machine learning and rapid digitization of rich datasets, allow researchers to analyze empirically questions that could never be explored systematically before. This book aims to help us seize that moment. We hope it will inspire scholars to seek new research frontlines with the enthusiasm and curiosity that characterized the founders of new institutional economics. The table of contents can be found here. In the next weeks, we will post a few abstracts of chapters to give a flavor of the final volume.
*A Research Agenda for New Institutional Economics, Claude Ménard and Mary M. Shirley, eds., Edward Elgar Publishers, forthcoming in 2018.