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date: 18 October 2017

Abstract and Keywords

This article emphasizes the uneasy and sometimes tension-filled relationship that has long existed between business history and mainstream economic theorists. Since business history first emerged as a distinct field of research in the early twentieth century, most practitioners have made little use of economics in their work and some have been downright hostile to the idea that economic theory could improve the writing of business history. The development of new bodies of theory in the last several decades, particularly the economics of asymmetric information, transaction-cost economics, and game theory, has changed the situation to a considerable extent. Over the last couple of decades, scholars have used economic theory to forge new links between business history and developments in the other social-science disciplines. They have revisited in illuminating ways topics ranging from early trading companies to modern financial institutions.

Keywords: business history, economic theorists, asymmetric information, transaction-cost economics, game theory

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