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Regulation, Trust, and Cronyism in Middle Eastern Societies: The Simple Economics of 'Wasta'

Author

Listed:
  • Barnett, Andy

    () (Auburn University)

  • Yandle, Bruce

    () (Clemson University)

  • Naufal, George S

    () (Texas A&M University)

Abstract

Despite being a fixture of everyday life in the Arab world, wasta, which may be thought of as special influence by members of the same group or tribe, has received little attention from social scientists. Our casual empiricism suggests that wasta is an important determinant of how economic activities are organized and resources are allocated in Middle Eastern societies, yet economists, even those who specialize in work related to the Middle East, have not addressed the issue of wasta. With this paper we provide a modest beginning to filling that void. Specifically, we use the history of wasta, Hayek's concept of extended order and Coase's work on the nature of the firm to draw inferences regarding the existence of wasta and its persistence in Arab societies.

Suggested Citation

  • Barnett, Andy & Yandle, Bruce & Naufal, George S, 2013. "Regulation, Trust, and Cronyism in Middle Eastern Societies: The Simple Economics of 'Wasta'," IZA Discussion Papers 7201, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7201
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Becker, Gary S., 1971. "The Economics of Discrimination," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 2, number 9780226041162, June.
    2. Lipford, Jody W. & Yandle, Bruce, 2009. "The determinants of purposeful voluntarism," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 72-79, January.
    3. Ahmed Amin Mohamed & Hadia Hamdy, 2008. "The Stigma of Wasta: The Effect of Wasta on Perceived Competence and Morality," Working Papers 5, The German University in Cairo, Faculty of Management Technology.
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    Cited by:

    1. Matthew Groh & David McKenzie & Nour Shammout & Tara Vishwanath, 2015. "Testing the importance of search frictions and matching through a randomized experiment in Jordan," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-20, December.
    2. Berger, Ron & Silbiger, Avi & Herstein, Ram & Barnes, Bradley R., 2015. "Analyzing business-to-business relationships in an Arab context," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 454-464.
    3. repec:ris:utmsje:0208 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Bénédicte Coestier, 2015. "Jordan and the Middle-Income Growth Trap: Arab Springs and Institutional Changes," EconomiX Working Papers 2015-8, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Middle East; Coase; Hayek; firm; wasta; cronyism; social capital;

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • K20 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - General
    • N45 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Asia including Middle East

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