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What Makes an Economy Productive and Progressive? What Are the Needed Institutions?


  • Nelson, Richard R.


Institutions again have become the focus of the theorizing and empirical work of economists concerned with the determinants of economic growth, and of cross country differences in income levels. One central argument of this paper is that institutions and institutional change need to be understood as tightly intertwined with the technologies used in an economy, and with technological change. A second argument is that, in general, societies have very limited ability to design institutions that are effective, and that the processes of institutional reform work erratically.

Suggested Citation

  • Nelson, Richard R., 2007. "What Makes an Economy Productive and Progressive? What Are the Needed Institutions?," Staff Papers 13728, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:umaesp:13728

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ruttan, Vernon W., 2006. "Social science knowledge and induced institutional innovation: an institutional design perspective," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(03), pages 249-272, December.
    2. Moses Abramovitz, 1956. "Resource and Output Trends in the United States Since 1870," NBER Chapters,in: Resource and Output Trends in the United States Since 1870, pages 1-23 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 271-303, September.
    4. Dani Rodrik & Arvind Subramanian & Francesco Trebbi, 2004. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 131-165, June.
    5. Alfred D. Chandler, 1969. "Strategy and Structure: Chapters in the History of the American Industrial Enterprise," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262530090, July.
    6. Nelson, Richard R, 1998. "The Agenda for Growth Theory: A Different Point of View," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(4), pages 497-520, July.
    7. Nelson, Richard R. & Sampat, Bhaven N., 2001. "Making sense of institutions as a factor shaping economic performance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 31-54, January.
    8. Geoffrey M. Hodgson, 1998. "The Approach of Institutional Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 166-192, March.
    9. G. Hodgson., 2007. "What Are Institutions?," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 8.
    10. Moses Abramovitz, 1956. "Resource and Output Trends in the United States Since 1870," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number abra56-1, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Paolo Di Martino & Michelangelo Vasta, 2012. "Happy 150th Birthday Italy? Institutions and Economic Performance Since 1861," Department of Economics University of Siena 662, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    2. Gabriela Dutrénit & Juan Carlos Moreno-Brid & Martín Puchet & Eduardo Moreno, 2014. "Economic growth, innovation and inequality in Latin America: improvements, setbacks and pending issues post-Washington Consensus," Chapters,in: National Innovation Systems, Social Inclusion and Development, chapter 11, pages 304-348 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Bengt-Åke Lundvall, 2007. "Innovation System Research – Where it came from and where it might go," Globelics Working Paper Series 2007-01, Globelics - Global Network for Economics of Learning, Innovation, and Competence Building Systems, Aalborg University, Department of Business and Management.
    4. Slavo Radosevic, 2009. "Policies for Promoting Technological Catch Up: Towards a Post-Washington Approach," Institutions and Economies (formerly known as International Journal of Institutions and Economies), Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya, vol. 1(1), pages 23-52, June.
    5. Amar Bhidé, 2009. "The Venturesome Economy: How Innovation Sustains Prosperity in a More Connected World," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 21(1), pages 8-23.
    6. Gabriela Dutrénit & Morris Teubal, 2011. "Coevolution, Emergence and Economic Development: Some Lessons from the Israeli and Mexican Experience," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economic Complexity of Technological Change, chapter 18 Edward Elgar Publishing.


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