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Self-enforcing Political System and Economic Growth: Late Medieval Genoa


  • Avner Greif


November 5, 1997 This paper presents a micro-level historical and theoretical analysis of Genoa's economic and political history during the twelfth and thirteenth century by examining the factors influencing the extent to which its political system was self-enforcing and their change over time. It combines narrative and theoretical analysis to resolve questions that can not be resolved by either narrative or theory alone. Although the Genoese Commune was voluntarily established in the hope to gain from economic and political cooperation, sustaining its self-enforcing nature constrained such cooperation. Cooperation was thus determined by the magnitude of factors, such as external military threat that relaxed this constraint. It took a century before learning and the increasing cost of non-cooperation induced organizational innovation that enhanced economic growth and political order by fostering the extent to which Genoa was a self-enforcing political system irrespectively of external threat.

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  • Avner Greif, 1997. "Self-enforcing Political System and Economic Growth: Late Medieval Genoa," Working Papers 97037, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:stanec:97037

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    1. Stergios Skaperdas, 2011. "Proprietary Public Finance: On its Emergence and Evolution out of Anarchy," CESifo Working Paper Series 3495, CESifo Group Munich.
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    3. Gagliardi, Francesca, 2008. "Institutions and economic change: A critical survey of the new institutional approaches and empirical evidence," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 416-443, February.
    4. Garfinkel, Michelle R. & Skaperdas, Stergios, 2007. "Economics of Conflict: An Overview," Handbook of Defense Economics, Elsevier.
    5. Stergios Skaperdas, 2003. "Restraining the Genuine Homo Economicus: Why the Economy Cannot Be Divorced from Its Governance," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(2), pages 135-162, July.
    6. Michael McBride & Gary Milante & Stergios Skaperdas, 2011. "Peace and War With Endogenous State Capacity," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 55(3), pages 446-468, June.
    7. Kaire Põder, 2010. "Credible commitment and cartel: the case of the Hansa merchant in the guild of late medieval Tallin," Baltic Journal of Economics, Baltic International Centre for Economic Policy Studies, vol. 10(1), pages 43-60, June.
    8. Carl Lyttkens, 2006. "Reflections on the Origins of the Polis," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 31-48, March.
    9. Omar Azfar, 2006. "The New Institutional Economics Approach to Economic Development: A Discussion of Social, Political, Legal, and Economic Institutions," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 45(4), pages 965-980.

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