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Self-Enforcing Arrangements and Heterogeneous Groups


  • Peter T. Leeson


A conventional wisdom in the literature contends that without a system of formal enforcement, heterogeneous groups are unable to peacefully interact for mutual benefit and are prone to eruptions of violent conflict. This article maintains that the amount of such conflict has been dramatically overstated and the occurrence of peaceful interaction dramatically understated. The common view reverses the empirical reality of the world. Historical evidence indicates that where formal institutions are absent, heterogeneous individuals signal credibility to one another by engaging in shared customs and practices, enabling peaceful intergroup exchange. This evidence challenges prevailing beliefs and suggests that peaceful cooperation characterizes most heterogeneous group interaction. Copyright 2006 American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Inc..

Suggested Citation

  • Peter T. Leeson, 2006. "Self-Enforcing Arrangements and Heterogeneous Groups," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(4), pages 891-907, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ajecsc:v:65:y:2006:i:4:p:891-907

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Benjamin Powell & Edward Stringham, 2009. "Public choice and the economic analysis of anarchy: a survey," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 140(3), pages 503-538, September.
    2. Richard E. Wagner, 2012. "Deficits, Debt, and Democracy," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 14477.
    3. Peter J. Boettke & Christopher J. Coyne & Peter T. Leeson, 2015. "Institutional stickiness and the New Development Economics," Chapters,in: Culture and Economic Action, chapter 6, pages 123-146 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Peter Leeson & Christopher Coyne & Peter Boettke, 2006. "Converting social conflict: Focal points and the evolution of cooperation," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 19(2), pages 137-147, June.
    5. Peter T. Leeson, 2007. "Trading with Bandits," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50, pages 303-321.
    6. Peter T. Leeson & Claudia R. Williamson, 2011. "Can’t We All Just Get Along? Fractionalization, Institutions and Economic Consequences," Chapters,in: The Handbook on the Political Economy of War, chapter 4 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. Peter Boettke & Rosolino Candela, 2014. "Hayek, Leoni, and Law as the Fifth Factor of Production," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 42(2), pages 123-131, June.
    8. Art Carden & Christopher Coyne, 2013. "The political economy of the Reconstruction Era’s race riots," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 157(1), pages 57-71, October.
    9. Edward Stringham & Peter Boettke, 2006. "The failings of legal centralism for helping stock markets in transition," Politická ekonomie, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2006(1), pages 22-34.
    10. Peter Boettke & Jayme Lemke & Liya Palagashvili, 2015. "Polycentricity, Self-governance, and the Art & Science of Association," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 28(3), pages 311-335, September.
    11. Skarbek, David, 2012. "Prison gangs, norms, and organizations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 96-109.
    12. Alexander W. Salter & Peter T. Leeson, 2014. "Celestial Anarchy: A Threat to Outer Space Commerce?," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 34(3), pages 581-596, Fall.
    13. Tereza Šímová & Josef Šíma, 2012. "In Search Of Empirical Content – The Austrian Way To Go Beyond Pure Theory," Romanian Economic Business Review, Romanian-American University, vol. 7(1), pages 50-59, March.
    14. Peter J. Boettke & Christopher J. Coyne & Peter T. Leeson, 2015. "Institutional stickiness and the New Development Economics," Chapters,in: Culture and Economic Action, chapter 6, pages 123-146 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    15. Stringham, Edward Peter & Zywicki, Todd J., 2011. "Hayekian anarchism," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 78(3), pages 290-301, May.
    16. Leeson, Peter T. & Boettke, Peter J., 2009. "Two-tiered entrepreneurship and economic development," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 252-259, September.
    17. David J. Hebert, 2013. "Property Rights: Private or Public? Evidence from the Boston Frozen Water Trade," Journal of Private Enterprise, The Association of Private Enterprise Education, vol. 28(Spring 20), pages 113-123.
    18. Peter Boettke & Christopher Coyne & Peter Leeson & Frederic Sautet, 2005. "The New Comparative Political Economy," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 18(3), pages 281-304, December.
    19. Peter Leeson, 2007. "Efficient anarchy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 130(1), pages 41-53, January.

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