Journal of Economic Methodology 7 (3):341-371 (2000)
The New Institutional Economics (NIE) occupies an important space in the rapidly expanding theory of organization. Traditional testing techniques have only been applied to less complex parts of the NIE. A rich body of evidence generated by the experiences of firms and other organizations lies fallow. The limited domain of traditional testing will persist because of the nature of the central concepts of the NIE, the difficulty posed for integrating transaction cost into an optimizing framework by self-reference, and the particularly wicked manifestations of the Duhem-Quine problem. Experimental economics may add credibility to some components of the NIE but is unlikely to fill the current void. The catchy title, the telling anecdote, and the creative 'fact' have played a disproportionate role in determining the composition of the canonical literature in the NIE. Catalytic steps for developing professional norms governing the marshalling of data generated by different organizations and institutions are discussed in the concluding section.
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