Oliver E. Williamson

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Oliver Eaton Williamson (2009)

Oliver Eaton Williamson (born September 27, 1932 in Superior , Wisconsin , † May 21, 2020 in Berkeley , California ) was an American economist . He became known as an institutional economist who mainly dealt with transaction cost economics. In 2009 he was awarded the Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics together with Elinor Ostrom .


Williamson received his bachelor's degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1955 , his MBA from Stanford University in 1960, and his PhD in 1963 from Carnegie Mellon University . From 1988 he was Edgar F. Kaiser Professor of Business Administration , Professor of Economics and Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley . Williamson received honorary doctorates from several universities around the world. In 1983 he was admitted to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 1994 to the National Academy of Sciences . The father of five children was married to Dolores Celeni from 1957.

Williamson's work on the question of why companies are created made him known. In the field of institutional economics , he researched the interplay between markets and organizations.


Williamson became widely known for two books in particular:

  • Markets and Hierarchies (1975)
  • The Economic Institutions of Capitalism (1985)

Williamson trade-off

The welfare and market price effects resulting from a merger or acquisition can be analyzed using the Williamson trade-off .

The assumption is that a concentrated company can produce at lower marginal costs due to economies of scale . A distinction is made between two cases:

  1. If the concentrated company is the only provider, it will practice monopoly behavior and realize the Cournot point . This in turn results in two effects: On the one hand, lower marginal costs reflect an increase in efficiency in production. On the other hand, a reduction in the supply volume by the new monopolist leads to a loss of welfare because consumers who bought the product at the original market price under perfect competition are now too unwilling to pay (“inefficient allocation”). Thus, the overall welfare effect is difficult to measure, since a welfare gain through increased efficiency is offset by a welfare loss through monopoly power.
  2. If the merged company is not the only remaining supplier in the market, a new price will be set only slightly above the price before the company concentration, since a realization of a higher monopoly price due to the competition, which is assumed to be able to offer at old marginal costs and thus old price, is not possible is possible ( Bertrand model ).

Web links

Commons : Oliver E. Williamson  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Oliver Williamson RIP. In: econlib.org. May 22, 2020, accessed on May 22, 2020 . Nobel Laureate Oliver Williamson, pioneer of organizational economics, dies at 87. In: newsroom.haas.berkeley.edu. May 23, 2020, accessed on May 23, 2020 .
  2. ^ Nobelprize.org: The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2009 , October 12, 2009, accessed May 22, 2020.
  3. turi2 | media & brands. Retrieved on May 23, 2020 (German).