An investigation of Oliver Williamson's analysis of the division of labour
Michael J. White
- Publisher: Oxford University Press
Cambridge Journal Of Economics,
In 2009 Oliver Williamson was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for his analysis of economic governance. Williamson was central to the emergence of the transaction cost framework as an important aspect of social scientific analysis. Part of this approach makes important efficiency predictions and prescriptions regarding the division of labour within firms in contemporary capitalist economies. This discounts issues of power and privileges 'firm-specific human assets' as the key organisational driver. Indeed, Williamson's approach intentionally conflates the employment relation with exchanges for 'intermediate' goods. This article seeks to investigate Williamson's explanatory claims through a UK-based panel dataset using a dynamic logit modelling approach. The findings question Williamson's central argument. The results, instead, are more consistent with the idea of the industry-specificity of labour and highlight the importance of firm size. Copyright , Oxford University Press.