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Pirational choice: The economics of infamous pirate practices

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Author Info

  • Leeson, Peter T.

Abstract

Abstract This paper investigates the economics of infamous pirate practices. Two closely related economic theories--the theory of signaling and the theory of reputation building--explain these practices. First, I examine the pirate flag, "Jolly Roger," which pirates used to signal their identity as unconstrained outlaws, enabling them to take prizes without costly conflict. Second, I consider how pirates combined heinous torture, public displays of "madness," and published advertisement of their fiendishness to establish a reputation that prevented costly captive behaviors. Pirates' infamous practices reduced their criminal enterprise's costs and increased its revenues, enhancing the profitability of life "on the account."

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 76 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (December)
Pages: 497-510

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:76:y:2010:i:3:p:497-510

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

Related research

Keywords: Pirates Organized crime Signalling Reputation;

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Cited by:
  1. James Kostelnik & David Skarbek, 2013. "The governance institutions of a drug trafficking organization," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 156(1), pages 95-103, July.
  2. √Čric Darmon & Thomas Le Texier, 2014. "Private or Public Law Enforcement? The Case of Digital Piracy Policies with Non-monitored Illegal Behaviors," Economics Working Paper Archive (University of Rennes 1 & University of Caen) 201403, Center for Research in Economics and Management (CREM), University of Rennes 1, University of Caen and CNRS.
  3. Guha, Brishti, 2012. "Pirates and fishermen: Is less patrolling always bad?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 29-38.
  4. Skarbek, David, 2012. "Prison gangs, norms, and organizations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 96-109.
  5. Solomon Stein & Virgil Storr, 2013. "The difficulty of applying the economics of time and ignorance," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 27-37, March.
  6. Leeson, Peter T. & Nowrasteh, Alex, 2011. "Was privateering plunder efficient?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 303-317, August.

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