Document Type

Working Paper

Repository Date



contract, empirical, experiment, qualitative, quantitative, survey, overview, meta, review

Subject Categories

Commercial Law | Contracts | Government Contracts | Law


Since the mid 2000s, a cottage industry has slowly blossomed of empirical research dedicated to advancing accounts of contracts "on the books"--accounting for what contracts tend to purportedly obligate signers to do, and contracts "in action"--accounting for how contracting parties tend to behave. This article reviews this literature, which spans several disciplines, most notably law, economics, and management, identifying eight categories of empirical questions in common across all disciplines, highlighting key findings, points of consensus, and noting areas most pressingly in need of additional research.