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Credible commitment and cartel: the case of the Hansa merchant in the guild of late medieval Tallin

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  • Kaire Põder

    () (Tallinn University of Technology)

Abstract

This paper contributes to the ongoing debate of institutional research in economics and the methodological debate over the plausibility of using analytic narratives, in social sciences in particular. Using a single historical case we argue that in Tallinn by and large the merchant guild solved a commitment problem in the Hanseatic League and the organisation-institution of the guild was meant for efficient enforcement of inter-city trade. We show that this argument holds in the late medieval period by using an extensive form of punishment and sanctions game. We also argue that after the breakup of the Hanseatic League, guilds turned into protectionist and rent-seeking cartels.

Suggested Citation

  • Kaire Põder, 2010. "Credible commitment and cartel: the case of the Hansa merchant in the guild of late medieval Tallin," Baltic Journal of Economics, Baltic International Centre for Economic Policy Studies, vol. 10(1), pages 43-60, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bic:journl:v:10:y:2010:i:1:p:43-60
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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 525-548, June.
    2. Philip T. Hoffman & Gilles Postel-Vinay & Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, 1998. "What do Notaries do?. Overcoming Asymmetric Information in Financial Markets: The Case of Paris, 1751," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 154(3), pages 499-499, September.
    3. 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.
    4. Tollison, Robert D, 1982. "Rent Seeking: A Survey," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(4), pages 575-602.
    5. Gregory Clark, 2007. "A Review of Avner Greif's Institutions and the Path to the Modern Economy: Lessons from Medieval Trade," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 725-741, September.
    6. 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 745-776, August.
    7. Avner Greif, 1997. "Self-enforcing Political System and Economic Growth: Late Medieval Genoa," Working Papers 97037, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    economic history; credible commitment; analytic narratives; reputation mechanism; Hanseatic League;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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