IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Explaining the economic trajectories of civilizations: The systemic approach


  • Kuran, Timur


A civilization constitutes a durable social system of complementary traits. Some of the complementarities of any given civilization are between elements of "material" life and ones commonly treated as integral to "culture." Identifying the mechanisms responsible for a civilization's observed trajectory involves, therefore, causal relationships that cross the often-postulated "cultural-material" divide. Complementarities make it difficult to transplant institutions across civilizations on a piecemeal basis. They imply that reforms designed to jump-start an economy will fail unless they are comprehensive. Civilizational analysis can benefit, therefore, from attention to institutional complementarities, including ones involving both cultural and material variables.

Suggested Citation

  • Kuran, Timur, 2009. "Explaining the economic trajectories of civilizations: The systemic approach," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 593-605, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:71:y:2009:i:3:p:593-605

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dani Rodrik, 2008. "Goodbye Washington Consensus, Hello Washington Confusion? A Review of the World Banks Economic Growth in the 1990s: Learning from a Decade of Reform," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 55(2), pages 135-156, June.
    2. Douglass C. North, 2005. "Introduction to Understanding the Process of Economic Change," Introductory Chapters,in: Understanding the Process of Economic Change Princeton University Press.
    3. Masahiko Aoki, 2001. "Toward a Comparative Institutional Analysis," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262011875, January.
    4. Kuran, Timur, 2003. "The Islamic Commercial Crisis: Institutional Roots of Economic Underdevelopment in the Middle East," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 63(02), pages 414-446, June.
    5. Kuran, Timur, 2005. "The logic of financial westernization in the Middle East," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 593-615, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Foster, John, 2011. "Energy, aesthetics and knowledge in complex economic systems," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 88-100.
    2. Elert, Niklas & Henrekson, Magnus, 2016. "Status Quo Institutions and the Benefits of Institutional Deviations," Working Paper Series 1144, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 15 Mar 2017.
    3. Elert, Niklas & Henrekson, Magnus, 2017. "Entrepreneurship and Institutions: A Bidirectional Relationship," Working Paper Series 1153, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 05 May 2017.
    4. François Facchini, 2013. "Economic freedom in Muslim countries: an explanation using the theory of institutional path dependency," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 36(1), pages 139-167, August.
    5. Hearn, Bruce & Strange, Roger & Piesse, Jenifer, 2017. "Social elites on the board and executive pay in developing countries: Evidence from Africa," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 230-243.
    6. Murizah Osman Salleh & Aziz Jaafar & M. Shahid Ebrahim, 2011. "The Inhibition of Usury (Riba An-Nasi'ah) and the Economic Underdevelopment of the Muslim World," Working Papers 11002, Bangor Business School, Prifysgol Bangor University (Cymru / Wales).
    7. Robbert Maseland & André Hoorn, 2011. "Why Muslims like democracy yet have so little of it," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 147(3), pages 481-496, June.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:71:y:2009:i:3:p:593-605. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.