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Institutions and transition: Lessons and surprises

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  • Paul Hare

    ()
    (Heriot-Watt University Emeritus Professor of Economics, School of Management and Languages, Edinburgh, UK)

Abstract

This paper starts with some definitions and concepts to clarify what we have in mind when we talk about economic institutions and the political economy of transition. Much discussion of the area is characterised by ambiguity and confusion, and while there are many partial theories of institutions covering specific cases, we still lack an all encompassing theory. The institutions important for transition are introduced next, this discussion helping to make clear the critical distinction between institutions per se, and the concrete organisational and legal forms through which they are implemented in particular country settings. For those transition economies that have already joined, or wish to join the EU, this includes some remarks on the acquis communautaire. Some empirical evidence on the role of institutions in facilitating transition and fostering post-socialist economic growth is then reviewed, finding support for the rule of law, secure property rights (ownership and business contracts) and liberal trade. As an aside to the main argument, a brief account of possible directions of institutional reform in North Korea is presented. Finally, the concluding section outlines what transition has taught us about the roles of institutions in economic life, and highlights some important unsettled issues, including the problem of embedding new institutions in different cultural settings.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Akadémiai Kiadó, Hungary in its journal Society and Economy.

Volume (Year): 35 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages: 1-24

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Handle: RePEc:aka:soceco:v:35:y:2013:i:1:p:1-24

Note: Paper presented at Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary, September 2012; first prepared as a Keynote Address for the EACES Conference 2012, Paisley Campus, University of the West of Scotland, September 6–8 2012. The paper draws heavily on my contribution to the forthcoming edited volume on transition, Handbook of the Economics and Political Economy of Transition, edited by Paul Hare and Gerard Turley, to be published by Routledge in April 2013. In one section, the paper also makes use of some ideas discussed in my recent paper on North Korea, ‘North Korea: Building the Institutions to Raise Living Standards’, paper for a special issue of International Economic Journal edited by Gerard Roland.
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Keywords: transition economies; property rights; Eastern Europe; political economy;

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