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Institutions and Impersonal Exchange: From Communal to Individual Responsibility

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  • Avner Greif

Abstract

This paper utilizes historical evidence and game theory to examine institutions that fostered intercommunity impersonal exchange during the late medieval period. It presents the community responsibility system that functioned throughout Europe and supported impersonal exchange despite the lack of impartial legal enforcement provided by a third party. At its center was the use of intracommunity contract enforcement institutions to provide the enforcement required for inter-community impersonal exchange. Atransition toward individual legal responsibility during the late thirteenth century reflects the system's contributions to its own decline. The processes that it fostered reduced its economic efficiency and (intra-community) political viability.

Suggested Citation

  • Avner Greif, 2002. "Institutions and Impersonal Exchange: From Communal to Individual Responsibility," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 158(1), pages 168-168, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:mhr:jinste:urn:sici:0932-4569(200203)158:1_168:iaiefc_2.0.tx_2-a
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    JEL classification:

    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • N2 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions
    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory

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