The Theory of Share Tenancy by Steven Cheung, first published as a PhD thesis 50 years ago, was an important watershed study on the economics of contracts. It contained the first formal demonstration of the Coase Theorem, linked the concepts of property rights and transaction costs, laid early foundations for the future economics of contracts, and can even lay claim to originating the idea of a risk/incentive tradeoff in contract design. This essay examines Cheung's key contributions in Share Tenancy, and considers reasons for its somewhat limited legacy outside of China.
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