- Series: Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions
- Paperback: 159 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 59262nd edition (October 26, 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521397340
- ISBN-13: 978-0521397346
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance (Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions) 59262nd Edition
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"At a time when economic and political institutions are being reformed and replaced all over the world, North's book is required reading for all social scientists and policy makers." T.N. Srinivasan, Yale University
"North here draws upon the literature concerning the formation of economic institutions...to ask significant questions about differences among economies across time and space...This is an exciting and stimulating work, and one that will leave its mark upon the work of economic historians. It will also be important for political scientists and other social scientists, to learn the message and relevance of an influential strain of non-mainstream economic thinking." Stanley Engerman, University of Rochester
"In a careful but wide-ranging analysis grounded in rational-choice theory, he stresses the ways in which institutional arrangements, once adopted, may lead quite rational actors to behave in ways that are collectively suboptimal." Paul Pierson, World Politics
An analytical framework for explaining the ways in which institutions and institutional change affect the performance of economies is developed in this analysis of economic structures.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book introduces the basic concepts to understand how institutions and property rigths as defined by Douglass C. North affect the economic process. Compared to other books by nobel laureates, this one is cristal clear. Very well written and thoroughly understandable. Highly recommendable.
The book is expensive though; that is why I give a 4 stars grade.
I believe this book is great reading for the literate economist. It is difficult to follow for the non-economist, which I believe North focuses on in his other book, "Structure and Change in Economic History". That work is earlier and I believe not as complete, but it is much more readable. Either way, North's work is among the most important advances in economics in the 20th century (for which he got the Nobel Prize), so knowledge of it should benefit one and all.
There are two kinds of institutions: formal (laws, codes, public policy, business policy, etc.), and informal (traditons, religions, modes of organization, family and social habits). Both are equally important, for they determine the rules of the game. In turn, rules determine what kind of knowledge is worth acquiring, what activities are profitable, and how to relate to others, which, in turn, determines economic performance. An innovation-rewarding society will tend to be technologically advanced, whereas a conformity-rewarding society will stagnate. Another important statement of the book is that institutions change in a marginal and incremental way. Even after revolutions and radical changes in political regimes, informal institutions tend to persist and in any case they change very slowly. North uses the example of the Russian Revolution: even though it is most likely the most radical and sudden social change ever experienced, there is still much of Tsarist Russia in its contemporary society, after the Soviet regime came and left. Tocqueville made the same observation about the French Revolution in his masterful "The Ancient Regime and Revolution": France ended up with an Emperor and several kings after the republican bloodshed and well into the XIXth Century, and social change came about slowly.
By generating winners and losers, institutions create "path dependence". Even when it is clear that change is needed, those who profit from the status quo (the rich and powerful), will stop or obstruct change. North puts forth the case of the Americas, the Anglosaxon and the Hispanic, to illustrate how, in spite of the fact that many Latin American nations practically copied the American Constitution after achieving independence, the heritage of the decadent and stagnant Spain persists to this day in their instititutions.
This is easily one of the most relevant books to read when trying to understand the world's economy (crisis and all). As a further example, although it looks like China has changed overnight, it is most likely that's not the case in institutional terms, and soon China will face the dead weight of its culture versus economic progress. Change does happen, and there may be some kickstarters, but in the long run institutions change in an incremental and slow way.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It is very easy to read and comprehensive.
I like it, I recommend this book.