The benefits of having the present collection of articles brought together in one volume had been clear to both editors for some time as a result of our having taught courses whose reading lists have consisted largely of the articles reproduced here. There is of course a huge saving of time and effort on everyone's part in being able to refer students to a single volume rather than to a reading list of individual articles, some of which are often surprisingly difficult to aquire. But the benefit of having these readings brought together is far more than simply convenience. The exercise helps focus attention on the contribution which this whole literature on the economics of contracts and industrial organization has made, of which the articles reproduced here are of course merely a selected few. Seeing the articles together dramatizes the links, the common themes, the differences, and the remaining gaps. We are therefore grateful for discussions on this material to our past students, especially those from the Management Studies Tripos and Management Studies Diploma at Cambridge, and MBA and Doctoral students from the University of Bradford Management Centre and the University of Leeds.
While for some time, therefore, we have thought that it would be useful if someone were to publish a collection such as this, the impetus for the two of us to do it came from our collaboration on the Economic and Social Research Council's 1992-97 research programme on Contracts and Competition, of which Michie was Director and Buckley an award holder. We are therefore also grateful to our colleagues on this programme for many illuminating discussions, as well as to the ESRC. While in no way wishing to implicate them in our choice of readings or introductory remarks, we are particularly grateful to Martin Cave, Malcolm Chapman, Simon Deakin, Alan Hughes, Peter Nolan, John Vickers, David Vines and Frank Wilkinson. Ronald Coase has shown a continuing interest in the work of the Contracts and Competition research programme; we are grateful to him for this and also for kindly contributing the Foreword to this volume.
If these were the 'pull' factors that lead us to undertake the job of bringing this collection together, the 'push' factor was undoubtedly David Musson, Oxford University Press's commissioning editor for management and business, who offered thoughtful and helpful comment and advice throughout. We are grateful to him and also to Donald Strachan and Jenni Scott who admirably oversaw much of the work at OUP.