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Texto para discussão 16/2006

Negotiating transaction costs in economics: Oliver Williamson and his audiences
Huáscar Fialho Pessali*, Ramón G. Fernández**

The article studies the interaction between Oliver Williamson and his audiences in the construction of Transaction Cost Economics (TCE). His attentiveness to the feedback from different groups has played a major role in the success of TCE.
First we discuss briefly the relevance of rhetoric to the study of economics. Rhetoric stresses that economists talk not to a void, but to peers and lay people with their habits, interests, institutional conditionings and values. Using the toolbox of rhetoric we identify Williamson’s intended audiences. Next we discuss his lists of claimed antecedents and the changes made
therein. We explore how those (changing) connections could possibly have incited different audiences. In what follows, we use citation data to delineate his actual readers. This helps compare intended and actual audiences as we close with a discussion of Williamson’s ability to modify his intended reader and widen the audience of TCE in the social sciences.

* Department of Economics, Universidade Federal do Paraná.
** Fundação Getúlio Vargas - São Paulo.

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