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Transaction Costs Through Time


  • Douglass C. North

    (Washington University)


An economic definition of transaction costs are the costs of measuring what is being exchanged and enforcing agreements. In the larger context of societal evolution they are all the costs involved in human interaction over time. It is this larger context that I wish to explore in this essay. The concept is a close kin to the notion of social capital advanced by James Coleman (1990) and applied imaginatively to studying the differential patterns of Italian regional development by Robert Putnam in Making Democracy Work (1993). This essay, therefore, is a study in economic history which focuses on the costs of human coordination and cooperation through time which I regard as the key dilemma of societies past, present and future.

Suggested Citation

  • Douglass C. North, 1994. "Transaction Costs Through Time," Economic History 9411006, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpeh:9411006
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    Cited by:

    1. Nikos Alabanos & Sotiris Theodoropoulos, 2016. "A key-point comparison & the new challenges for the existent Administrative Burden Models (A.B.M’s)," SPOUDAI Journal of Economics and Business, SPOUDAI Journal of Economics and Business, University of Piraeus, vol. 66(1-2), pages 32-45, January-J.
    2. Łukasz Hardt, 2005. "Instytucje a koszty transakcyjne w nowej ekonomii instytucjonalnej," Gospodarka Narodowa. The Polish Journal of Economics, Warsaw School of Economics, issue 1-2, pages 1-19.

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    JEL classification:

    • N - Economic History


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