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Institutional innovation, contingency and war: A review


  • Norman Schofield

    () (Center in Political Economy, Washington University, 1 Brookings Drive, St. Louis, Missouri 63130, USA)


For over forty years, Douglass North has sought in his work to determine those conditions that favor economic growth. In his most recent writings he has emphasized the institutional innovations of the state and how these are often preceded, or accompanied, by transformations in beliefs and constitutional structures. This review of North's work also discusses the efforts of a younger generation of scholars in economic and political history to apply the tools of public choice theory in constructing "institutional narratives". Such narratives often focus on the nature of constitutional quandaries that polities have faced in the past. The conclusion suggests that the study of such quandaries can lead to a better understanding of how and why states fight wars. Indeed, it might be possible to use the insights so gained to design international institutions to foster economic growth and preserve peace.

Suggested Citation

  • Norman Schofield, 2000. "Institutional innovation, contingency and war: A review," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 17(3), pages 463-479.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:sochwe:v:17:y:2000:i:3:p:463-479
    Note: Received: 7 September 1998/Accepted: 28 May 1999

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    Cited by:

    1. Norman Schofield, 2010. "Social orders," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 34(3), pages 503-536, March.

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