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'Whatever Is, Is Right'?, Economic Institutions in Pre-Industrial Europe (Tawney Lecture 2006)

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  • Sheilagh Ogilvie

Abstract

Institutions – the structures of rules and norms governing economic transactions – are widely assigned a central role in economic development. Yet economic history is still dominated by the belief that institutions arise and survive because they are economically efficient. This paper shows that alternative explanations of institutions – particularly those incorporating distributional effects – are consistent with economic theory and supported by empirical findings. Distributional conflicts provide a better explanation than efficiency for the core economic institutions of pre-industrial Europe – serfdom, the community, the craft guild, and the merchant guild. The paper concludes by proposing four desiderata for any future economic theory of institutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Sheilagh Ogilvie, 2007. "'Whatever Is, Is Right'?, Economic Institutions in Pre-Industrial Europe (Tawney Lecture 2006)," CESifo Working Paper Series 2066, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2066
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    Cited by:

    1. van Bavel, Bas, 2016. "The Invisible Hand?: How Market Economies have Emerged and Declined Since AD 500," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199608133.
    2. Koyama, Mark, 2010. "Evading the 'Taint of Usury': The usury prohibition as a barrier to entry," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 420-442, October.
    3. repec:dau:papers:123456789/6913 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Giovanni Dosi & Luigi Marengo & Alessandro Nuvolari, 2016. "Institutions Are neither Autistic Maximizers nor Flocks of Birds: Self-organization, Power, and Learning in Human Organizations," LEM Papers Series 2016/38, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    5. repec:spr:blkpoe:v:44:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s12114-017-9263-z is not listed on IDEAS

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