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Enforcing cooperation among medieval merchants: The Maghribi traders revisited

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  • Harbord, David

Abstract

We revisit Greif's (1993) analysis of trade between the 11th-century Maghribi traders and present two different models which bring into play, in an essential way, historical features of the Maghribi's organization which had no role in Greif's own analysis. Our reformulation of the Maghribi's "punishment strategies" incorporates principal components of their actual historical practice and explains why they may have been necessary to sustain cooperation, especially in the presence of uncertainty or imperfect information. We also model "formal friendships," or trade through bilateral and multilateral partnerships, and predict the Maghribi's practice of providing agency services without pecuniary compensation. We are thus able to provide a richer and more accurate picture of how that organization facilitated trade between widely-dispersed traders in the absence of a reliable legal system to enforce merchant contracts.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 1889.

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Date of creation: 08 Nov 2006
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:1889

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Keywords: cooperation; enforcement; trade; institutions;

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References

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  1. Kletzer, Kenneth M. & Wright, Brian D., 1998. "Sovereign Debt as Intertemporal Barter," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt4qg3c42v, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  2. Baliga, Sandeep & Evans, Robert, 2000. "Renegotiation in Repeated Games with Side-Payments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 159-176, November.
  3. Matthew Rabin., 1991. "Reneging and Renegotiation," Economics Working Papers 91-163, University of California at Berkeley.
  4. Greif, Avner & Milgrom, Paul & Weingast, Barry R, 1994. "Coordination, Commitment, and Enforcement: The Case of the Merchant Guild," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 745-76, August.
  5. Green, Edward J & Porter, Robert H, 1984. "Noncooperative Collusion under Imperfect Price Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(1), pages 87-100, January.
  6. Douglas Bernheim, B. & Ray, Debraj, 1989. "Collective dynamic consistency in repeated games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(4), pages 295-326, December.
  7. Greif, Avner, 1989. "Reputation and Coalitions in Medieval Trade: Evidence on the Maghribi Traders," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 857-882, December.
  8. Farrell, Joseph & Maskin, Eric, 1987. "Renegotiation in Repeated Games," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt9wv3h5jb, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  9. Avinash Dixit, 2003. "Trade Expansion and Contract Enforcement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(6), pages 1293-1317, December.
  10. Aramendia, Miguel & Larrea, Concepcion & Ruiz, Luis, 2005. "Renegotiation in the repeated Cournot model," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 1-19, July.
  11. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-48, June.
  12. Gintis, Herbert, 2004. "Modeling cooperation among self-interested agents: a critique," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 695-714, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Harbord, David & Fehr, Nils Henrik von der, 2011. "Coordination, compensation and the expansion of trade: The merchant guilds revisited," MPRA Paper 40992, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Edwards, J. & Ogilvie, S., 2009. "Contract Enforcement, Institutions and Social Capital: the Maghribi Traders Reappraised," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0928, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  3. Mezgebo, Taddese, 2014. "Beyond Extended Phenotype Evolution of extended identity in order to reconcile study of humanity with biological evolution," MPRA Paper 54392, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. 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.

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