Maybe it's my UCLA bias or the fact that they wrote a lot about firms and governance, but I want to wholeheartedly endorse Josh Wright's argument that Armen Alchian, Harold Demsetz and Benjamin Klein Should Win the Economics Nobel Prize in 2011:
Alchian’s contributions to economics and law and economics are Nobel worthy. Armen’s classic paper with Harold Demsetz (AER, 1972) remains influential in the theory of the firm literature and is listed as the 12th most important paper in economics since 1970 by Kim et al. Klein, Crawford and Alchian’s seminal analysis of vertical integration and the holdup problem (JLE, 1978) ranks #30 on this list. With two hits in the top 30 economics papers since 1970, there is no doubt that Armen had impacted the field. Susan Woodward, a former co-author of Alchian, has authored a wonderful chapter on Alchian’s contributions to law and economics that will appear in the Cohen & Wright Pioneers of Law and Economics volume (there will also be essays on Klein and Demsetz). As I’ve written previously, Alchian also thrives by other measures of scholarly output. Cite counts do not begin to do his body of work justice. Consider, for example, that Armen’s teaching style is the stuff of legend (I say this having the great benefit of having Armen on my dissertation committee, but also sharing as colleagues two Bruin economists that studied under Alchian and knowing many more). Tales are abound of the careers of economists-in-the-making that Armen influenced in one way or another. ...
As strong as the case for an Alchian Nobel is, the likelihood of a solo Nobel in the areas of the theory of the firm or property rights is unlikely. And what better way to share the prize than with two co-authors who have made substantial and significant contributions, but individually and collectively, to economic problems involving the theory of the firm, property rights and transaction cost economics taking a similar methodological approach and bringing distinction to the UCLA School of economics. I’ve written extensively about Klein’s contributions here. But the most well known contributions (in addition to Klein, Crawford Alchian (1978) and the important exchange between Coase and Klein concerning asset specificity, vertical integration and contracting) include Klein & Leffler (1981), Priest & Klein (1984), Klein and Murphy (1988) and Klein (1995) and Klein (1996) ranging on topics from the role of reputation in the design and performance of contracts, the seminal model of litigation and settlement, vertical restraints, and the economics of franchising.
Demsetz’s contributions to economics are perhaps the most well known of the trio, including the coining of the phrase “Nirvana Fallacy,” but a cursory list as a refresher for the Nobel Committee:
- 1967, “Toward a Theory of Property Rights,” American Economic Review.
- 1968, “Why Regulate Utilities?” Journal of Law and Economics.
- 1969, “Information and Efficiency: Another Viewpoint,” Journal of Law and Economics.
- 1972 (with Armen Alchian, “Production, Information Costs and Economic Organization,” American Economic Review.
- 1973, “Industry Structure, Market Rivalry and Public Policy,” Journal of Law and Economics.
- 1979, “Accounting for Advertising as a Barrier to Entry,” Journal of Business.
- 1982. Economic, Legal, and Political Dimensions of Competition.
- 1988. The Organization of Economic Activity, 2 vols. Blackwell. Reprints most of Demsetz’s better known journal articles published as of date.
- 1994 (with Alexis Jacquemin). Anti-trust Economics: New Challenges for Competition Policy.
- 1995. The Economics of the Business Firm: Seven Critical Commentaries.
- 1997, “The Primacy of Economics: An Explanation of the Comparative Success of Economics in the Social Sciences” (Presidential Address to the Western Economics Association), Economic Inquiry.
And of course, most recently, Professor Demsetz released his newest book, From Economic Man to Economic System on Cambridge University Press.
Josh's post has lots of quotes from leading figures praising the trio, especially Alchian.