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Contract Enforcement, Institutions and Social Capital: the Maghribi Traders Reappraised

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  • Jeremy Edwards
  • Sheilagh Ogilvie

Abstract

Economists draw important lessons for modern development from the medieval Maghribi traders who, according to Greif, enforced contracts multilaterally through a closed, private-order ‘coalition’. We show that this view is untenable. The Maghribis used formal legal mechanisms and entered business associations with non-Maghribis. Not a single empirical example adduced by Greif shows that any ‘coalition’ actually existed. The Maghribis cannot be used to argue that the social capital of exclusive networks will facilitate exchange in developing economies. Nor do they provide any support for the cultural theories of economic development and institutional change for which they have been mobilised.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2254.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2254

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Keywords: contract enforcement; reputation; legal system; social network;

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References

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  1. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2005. "Surviving Andersonville: The Benefits of Social Networks in POW Camps," NBER Working Papers 11825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr. & Lee Hoskins, 2006. "The Case for Market-Based Regulation," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 26(3), pages 469-487, Fall.
  3. Harbord, David, 2006. "Enforcing cooperation among medieval merchants: The Maghribi traders revisited," MPRA Paper 1889, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Clay, Karen, 1997. "Trade without Law: Private-Order Institutions in Mexican California," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(1), pages 202-31, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Ogilvie, Sheilagh & Carus, A.W., 2014. "Institutions and Economic Growth in Historical Perspective," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 8, pages 403-513 Elsevier.
  2. Mezgebo, Taddese & Dereje, Fikadu, 2010. "Structure, conduct and performance of grain trading in Tigray and its impact on demand for commodity exchange: The case Maychew, Mokone, Alemata, Mekelle and Himora," MPRA Paper 24901, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Hodgson, Geoffrey M. & Knudsen, Thorbjørn, 2008. "The emergence of property rights enforcement in early trade: A behavioral model without reputational effects," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 48-62, October.
  4. Romain Ferrali, 2012. "The Maghribi industrialists: contract enforcement in the Moroccan industry, 1956-82," Economic History Working Papers 45680, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  5. Greif, Avner, 2008. "Contract enforcement and institutions among the Maghribi Traders: Refuting Edwards and Ogilvie," MPRA Paper 9610, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. C. Rowley, 2009. "The curious citation practices of Avner Greif: Janet Landa comes to grief," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 140(3), pages 275-285, September.
  7. Lydon, Ghislaine, 2009. "A paper economy of faith without faith in paper: A reflection on Islamic institutional history," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 647-659, September.

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