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Coordination, Commitment, and Enforcement: The Case of the Merchant Guild

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  • Greif, Avner
  • Milgrom, Paul
  • Weingast, Barry R

Abstract

The authors interpret historical evidence in light of a repeated-game model to conclude that merchant guilds emerged during the late medieval period to allow rulers of trade centers to commit to the security of alien merchants. The merchant guild developed the theoretically required attributes, secured merchants' property rights, and evolved in response to crises to extend the range of its effectiveness, contributing to the expansion of trade during the late medieval period. The authors elaborate on the relations between their theory and the monopoly theory of merchant guilds and contrast it with repeated-game theories that provide no role for formal organization. Copyright 1994 by University of Chicago Press.

Suggested Citation

  • 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 745-776, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:102:y:1994:i:4:p:745-76
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Farrell, Joseph & Maskin, Eric, 1989. "Renegotiation in repeated games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(4), pages 327-360, December.
    3. Evans, Robert & Maskin, Eric, 1989. "Efficient renegotiation--proof equilibria in repeated games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(4), pages 361-369, December.
    4. Hickson, Charles R. & Thompson, Earl A., 1991. "A new theory of guilds and european economic development," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 127-168, April.
    5. Abreu, Dilip & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1986. "Optimal cartel equilibria with imperfect monitoring," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 251-269, June.
    6. Lopez, Robert Sabatino, 1943. "European Merchants in the Medieval Indies: The Evidence of Commercial Documents," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(02), pages 164-184, November.
    7. Douglas Bernheim, B. & Ray, Debraj, 1989. "Collective dynamic consistency in repeated games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(4), pages 295-326, December.
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