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Advances in Transaction Cost Economics - 4 ECTS

Date and time

Monday 22 May 2023 at 12:00 to Friday 26 May 2023 at 16:30

Registration Deadline

Monday 15 May 2023 at 23:55


Online Online

Advances in Transaction Cost Economics - 4 ECTS

Course coordinator: Nicolai J. Foss, Department of Strategy and Innovation (SI)


Professor Nicolai J Foss
Copenhagen Business School

Professor Scott Masten,
University of Michigan

Associate Professor Libby Weber
UC Irvine

Professor Nicholas Argyres
Washington University in St. Louis

Professor Peter G Klein
Baylor University

Professor Marcus Møller Larsen
Copenhagen Business School

Professor Christian Geisler Asmussen
Copenhagen Business School

Professor Fabrice Lumineau
HKU Business School


No distinct prerequisites other than a basic knowledge of strategic management research and some familiarity with basic economics.


The aim of the class is to offer recent, advanced insights from the transaction cost economics field, particularly as it applies to management research.

Transaction cost economics has long been a distinct voice in the conversation of management scholars (e.g., in strategy, international business, organization, technology management, and many other management research areas).  While long associated with the seminal contributions of Oliver Williamson, in recent years many scholars have made fundamental contributions to TCE that has strongly expanded its realism and explanatory scope.

Ideally, at the end of the course students are able to engage in theory-building activities in behavioral strategy. In addition, students are able to identify suitable empirical methods and approaches for researching behavioral strategy.

Course content

The key idea of the course is to demonstrate the continuing viability of transaction cost economics as a progressive research program that expands by tackling new phenomena and problems by means of extending classical TCE thinking (i.e., the work of Oliver Williamson). This aim is achieved by presenting a number of the developments that have pushed the TCE envelope over the last two to three decades and featuring a number of those scholars who have been primarily responsible for these developments.

Thus, the course will consider extensions and refinements of the basic behavioral assumptions of classic TCE, advances in how to use TCE empirically, expansions of classical TCE into the CATO framework, as well as new applications to international business and competitive strategy, as well as ecosystems and the blockchain.

Teaching style

The structure of the course is mainly based on interactive lectures by a broad international panel of scholars, all of whom have made important contributions to the behavioral strategy field.

In addition, there will be the option of participating in one or two paper development workshops, in which students can sign up detailed feedback from the faculty-discussant on how to further develop a specific working paper (previously submitted). Typically, only a subset of participants are interested in this activity, so only two afternoons have been reserved for this (allowing for feedback on and discussion of up to six  papers).

The course is based on a high level of student involvement. Students are expected to be thoroughly prepared and to take an active part in the presentation and discussion of the material. Given the high content-to-time ratio, teaching is based on lecturing, illustrations and discussions and its success is predicated on interactive student involvement.
Lecture plan

The program is laid out such that it provides a comprehensive view of key research themes in transaction cost economics. All speakers are top-scholars that have made core contributions to TCE.
All speakers have accepted to participate. However, all the listed titles are so far tentative. Readings will added later. Indicative literature is provided at the end of the program.

DAY 1 - Monday 22 May, 2023
12.00-15.00:   Nicolai J Foss, CBS:
“TCE: An Evolving Research Program.”
Readings: TBA

16.00-19.00:   Scott Masten, University of Michigan:
“Empirical Research in Transaction Cost Economics.”
Readings: TBA
DAY 2 - Tuesday, 23 May, 2023
Extending the Behavioral Assumptions of TCE
14.00-17.00: Nicolai J Foss, CBS:
“Behavioral assumptions in TCE.”
Readings:  TBA

18.00- 20.00: Libby Weber, UC Irvine:
“Bounded Rationality in TCE: Heuristics and Biases”
Readings:  TBA
DAY 3 - Wednesday, 24 May, 2023
Comparative Adjustment Costs and Problem-Solving
13.00-15.00: Paper development workshop

15.00-17.00: Nicholas Argyres, Washington University in St. Louis:
“The Role of Adjustment Costs”
Readings: TBA
18.00-20.00: Jackson Nickerson, Washington University in St. Louis: 
“TCE and Problem-solving”
Readings: TBA
DAY 4 - Thursday, 25 May, 2023
New Applications of TCE: International Business and Competitive Strategy
11.00-12.30:  Marcus Møller Larsen, CBS:
“International Business”
Readings: TBA
13.00-14.30:  Christian Geisler Asmussen, CBS:
“Economizing and Strategizing.”
Readings: TBA
14.45-16.00: Paper Development Workshop
DAY 5 - Friday, 26 May, 2023
New Applications of TCE: The Blockchain and Ecosystems
11.00-13.00 Fabrice Lumineau, HKU Business School:
“The Blockchain in a TCE Perspective.”
Readings: TBA

13.30-15.30:   Nicolai J Foss, CBS:
“A TCE Perspective on Business Ecosystems.”
Readings: TBA

15.30-16.30:   Nicolai J Foss, CBS: 
Open Issues in TCE and Closing.”   
Readings: TBA


There is no exam at the end of the course. However, to obtain the course certificates the participants are expected to show high level of preparation and class participation. Minimum 80% attendance is required.

Course Literature

Indicative Literature
Argyres, N., Mahoney, J., & Nickerson, J.A. 2019. Strategic responses to shocks: Comparative adjustment costs, transaction costs, and opportunity costs. Strategic Management Journal, 40: 357-376.

Asmussen, C., Foss, K., Foss, N.,J., & Klein. 2021. Economizing and Strategizing: How Coalitions and Transaction Costs Shape Value Creation and Appropriation. Strategic Management Journal, 42: 413-434.

Coase, R.H. 1937. The nature of the firm. Economica, 4: 386-405.

Cuypers, I. R., Hennart, J. F., Silverman, B. S., & Ertug, G. 2021. Transaction cost theory: Past progress, current challenges, and suggestions for the future. Academy of Management Annals, 15(1), 111-150.

Larsen, M.M. 2013. Uncovering the hidden costs of offshoring: The interplay of complexity, organizational design, and experience. Strategic Management Journal, 34: 533-552.

Lumineau, F., Wang, W., & Schilke, O. 2021. Blockchain Governance—A New Way of Organizing Collaborations? Organization Science.

Mayer, K. J., & Argyres, N. S. 2004. Learning to contract: Evidence from the personal computer industry. Organization Science, 15: 394–410. 

Nickerson, J. A., & Zenger, T. R. 2004.  A knowledge-based theory of the firm—The problem-solving perspective. Organization Science. 15: 617–632.

Nickerson, J. A., & Zenger, T. R. 2008. Envy, comparison costs, and the economic theory of the firm. Strategic Management Journal, 29: 1429–1449.

Weber. L., & Mayer, K. J. 2014. Transaction cost economics and the cognitive perspective: Untangling the impact of informational and interpretive uncertainty on governance choice. Academy of Management Review.

Williamson, O. E. 1975. Markets and Hierarchies. New York: Free Press.

Williamson, O. E. 1985. The Economic Institutions of Capitalism. New York: Free Press.

Williamson, O. E. 1991. Comparative economic organization: The analysis of discrete structural alternatives. Administrative Science Quarterly, 36: 269–296.

Williamson, O. E. 1996a. The Mechanisms of Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Notes: Priority is given to CBS PhD students, and thereafter PhD students in the order of registration. 
ONLINE COURSE - all times indicated are CET times.

Participation will be limited to 25 students.
Select payment methods:
CBS students: Choose CBS PhD students and the course fee will be deducted from your PhD budget.
Students from other Danish universities: Choose Danish Electronic Invoice (EAN). Fill in your EAN number, attention and possible purchase (project) order number. Do you not pay by EAN number please choose Invoice to pay via electronic bank payment (+71). 
Students from foreign universities: Choose Payment Card. Are you not able to pay by credit card please choose Invoice International to pay via bank transfer. 
Please note that your registration is binding after the registration deadline.

Organizer Contact Information

CBS PhD School
Nina Iversen

Phone: +45 3815 2475

Organizer Contact Information

CBS PhD School
Nina Iversen

Phone: +45 3815 2475