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Enforcing cooperation among medieval merchants: The Maghribi traders revisited

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  • Harbord, David

Abstract

We revisit Greif's (1993) analysis of trade between the 11th-century Maghribi traders and present two different models which bring into play, in an essential way, historical features of the Maghribi's organization which had no role in Greif's own analysis. Our reformulation of the Maghribi's "punishment strategies" incorporates principal components of their actual historical practice and explains why they may have been necessary to sustain cooperation, especially in the presence of uncertainty or imperfect information. We also model "formal friendships," or trade through bilateral and multilateral partnerships, and predict the Maghribi's practice of providing agency services without pecuniary compensation. We are thus able to provide a richer and more accurate picture of how that organization facilitated trade between widely-dispersed traders in the absence of a reliable legal system to enforce merchant contracts.

Suggested Citation

  • Harbord, David, 2006. "Enforcing cooperation among medieval merchants: The Maghribi traders revisited," MPRA Paper 1889, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:1889
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/1889/1/MPRA_paper_1889.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Green, Edward J & Porter, Robert H, 1984. "Noncooperative Collusion under Imperfect Price Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(1), pages 87-100, January.
    3. 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.
    4. Brian D. Wright & Kenneth M. Kletzer, 2000. "Sovereign Debt as Intertemporal Barter," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 621-639, June.
    5. Avinash Dixit, 2003. "Trade Expansion and Contract Enforcement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(6), pages 1293-1317, December.
    6. Farrell, Joseph & Maskin, Eric, 1989. "Renegotiation in repeated games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(4), pages 327-360, December.
    7. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-548, June.
    8. Gintis, Herbert, 2004. "Modeling cooperation among self-interested agents: a critique," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 695-714, December.
    9. Aramendia, Miguel & Larrea, Concepcion & Ruiz, Luis, 2005. "Renegotiation in the repeated Cournot model," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 1-19, July.
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    12. 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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Jeremy Edwards & Sheilagh Ogilvie, 2012. "Contract enforcement, institutions, and social capital: the Maghribi traders reappraised," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 65(2), pages 421-444, May.
    2. Mezgebo, Taddese, 2014. "Beyond Extended Phenotype Evolution of extended identity in order to reconcile study of humanity with biological evolution," MPRA Paper 54392, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Harbord, David & Fehr, Nils Henrik von der, 2011. "Coordination, compensation and the expansion of trade: The merchant guilds revisited," MPRA Paper 40992, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Mezgebo, Taddese & Dereje, Fikadu, 2010. "Structure, conduct and performance of grain trading in Tigray and its impact on demand for commodity exchange: The case Maychew, Mokone, Alemata, Mekelle and Himora," MPRA Paper 24901, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Ogilvie, Sheilagh & Carus, A.W., 2014. "Institutions and Economic Growth in Historical Perspective," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 8, pages 403-513 Elsevier.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    cooperation; enforcement; trade; institutions;

    JEL classification:

    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • N75 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Asia including Middle East
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights

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