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

  • Kaire Põder

    ()

    (Tallinn University of Technology)

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.

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Article provided by Baltic International Centre for Economic Policy Studies in its journal Baltic Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 10 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (June)
Pages: 43-60

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Handle: RePEc:bic:journl:v:10:y:2010:i:1:p:43-60
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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 525-48, June.
  2. 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.
  3. 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-, September.
  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. 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.
  6. 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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