Contract Enforcement and Institutions among the Maghribi Traders: Refuting Edwards and Ogilvie
AbstractEdwards and Ogilvie dispute the empirical basis of the view that a multilateral reputation mechanism mitigated agency problems among the eleventh-century Maghribi traders. They allege that the relations among merchants and agents were founded in law. This paper refutes this assertion using comprehensive quantitative analyses of all available primary sources and a careful review of the documents and the literature Edwards and Ogilvie cite. Among recent new quantitative findings reported: (1) less than one percent of the documents’ content is devoted to legal activity on any matter. (2) The legal system was mainly used for mandatory, non-trade related matters. (3) The documents reflect thousands of agency relations but there are less than six court documents possibly reflecting its use in agency disputes. (4) A ten percent random sample of all the documents finds no trade-related legal actions among Maghribis beyond those in the court documents. (5) About 75 percent of agency relations were not based on a legal contract. The paper also reaffirms the accuracy of Greif’s documentary examples and sheds light on the roles of the legal system and reputation mechanism during this period.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research in its series Discussion Papers with number 08-018.
Date of creation: Jun 2008
Date of revision:
multilateral reputation mechanism; Maghribi traders; Edwards and Ogilvie;
Other versions of this item:
- Avner Greif, 2008. "Contract Enforcement and Institutions among the Maghribi Traders: Refuting Edwards and Ogilvie," CESifo Working Paper Series 2350, CESifo Group Munich.
- Greif, Avner, 2008. "Contract enforcement and institutions among the Maghribi Traders: Refuting Edwards and Ogilvie," MPRA Paper 9610, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- B11 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Preclassical (Ancient, Medieval, Mercantilist, Physiocratic)
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"Contract Enforcement, Institutions and Social Capital: the Maghribi Traders Reappraised,"
Cambridge Working Papers in Economics
0928, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
- Jeremy Edwards & Sheilagh Ogilvie, 2012. "Contract enforcement, institutions, and social capital: the Maghribi traders reappraised," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 65(2), pages 421-444, 05.
- Jeremy Edwards & Sheilagh Ogilvie, 2008. "Contract Enforcement, Institutions and Social Capital: the Maghribi Traders Reappraised," CESifo Working Paper Series 2254, CESifo Group Munich.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Veronica Coca, 2010. "The Impact of Rules on Economic Activity," Studies and Scientific Researches. Economics Edition, "Vasile Alecsandri" University of Bacau, Faculty of Economic Sciences, issue 15.
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