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Can We Rehabilitate the Guilds? A Sceptical Re-Appraisal

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  • Ogilvie, S.

Abstract

This paper examines recent attempts to rehabilitate pre-modern craft guilds as efficient economic institutions. Contrary to rehabilitation views, craft guilds adversely affected quality, skills, and innovation. Guild rent-seeking imposed deadweight losses on the economy and generated no demonstrable positive externalities. Industry flourished where guilds decayed. Despite impairing efficiency, guilds persisted because they redistributed resources to powerful groups. The ‘rehabilitation’ view of guilds, it concludes, is theoretically contradictory and empirically untenable.

Suggested Citation

  • Ogilvie, S., 2007. "Can We Rehabilitate the Guilds? A Sceptical Re-Appraisal," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0745, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:0745
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    File URL: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/research-files/repec/cam/pdf/cwpe0745.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Daron Acemoglu & Davide Cantoni & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2011. "The Consequences of Radical Reform: The French Revolution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3286-3307, December.
    2. Sheilagh Ogilvie, 2014. "The Economics of Guilds," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 28(4), pages 169-192, Fall.
    3. Alexander Klein & Sheilagh Ogilvie, 2016. "Occupational structure in the Czech lands under the second serfdom," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 69(2), pages 493-521, May.
    4. Sheilagh Ogilvie, 2007. "'Whatever Is, Is Right'?, Economic Institutions in Pre-Industrial Europe (Tawney Lecture 2006)," CESifo Working Paper Series 2066, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Institutions; guilds; rent-seeking; monopoly; craft; industry; quality; human capital; training; technology; innovation; economic history; methodology; local studies; case studies.;

    JEL classification:

    • N01 - Economic History - - General - - - Development of the Discipline: Historiographical; Sources and Methods
    • N43 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies

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