The Center for Contract and Economic Organization was created in 2006 to exploit the synergies between the University's leading scholars in contract theory and the economics of information and the faculty at the Law School, who are among the nation's most prominent legal scholars in the law and economics of contracts, commercial transactions, and business organizations.

The singular focus that links these various scholars is the study of the mechanisms of contracting both inside and outside the firm: Why do economic actors write the contracts that they do? How are these choices affected by variations in economic organization? And, how can (and do) lawyers (and the law) facilitate efforts to develop more efficient mechanisms for contract and transactional design? While several other universities have centers that focus more specifically on corporate structure and governance, the Center is both unique and uniquely placed to make major contributions to existing knowledge.

Collaborations among scholars at the center (including visiting fellows) not only advance primary work in contract theory but support empirical study of existing institutions and contracting behaviors. A central focus of the center is the integration of the work of theorists from both law and economics. The goal is twofold: to develop richer theories that incorporate a more realistic conception of legal institutions and of the observed behavior of economic actors, and to use these new frameworks to analyze and critique existing legal and business practices. In brief, the center supports scholarly collaborations in law, business, and economics for the purpose of better understanding (and improving) real world transactions and institutions.

In service of these goals, the center sponsors a number of continuing initiatives, including visiting fellows from each of the major disciplines for research sabbaticals lasting from several weeks to as long as a semester in duration. The center sponsors several major conferences—an annual interdisciplinary academic conference as well as occasional conferences that engage both academic and professional participants. There is also a continuing workshop in which scholars from around the University evaluate and critique work-in-progress presented by leading academics. In future years, interdisciplinary colloquia will focus as well on the work of students interested in sustained scholarly research and collaboration with center faculty. Ultimately, the center plans to coordinate joint degree programs that specialize in the study of contract and organization theory.

Robert E. Scott, the Alfred McCormack Professor of Law, is the director of the center.  Patrick Bolton, the Barbara and David Zalaznick Professor of Business, serves as the co-director.