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After an esteemed academic career as a chemist, Michael Polanyi switched to the social sciences and made significant contributions to our understanding of the nature and role of knowledge in society. Polanyi's argument concerning knowledge led him to emphasise the vital importance of decentralised mechanisms of adjustment and coordination, including markets. His article ‘Collectivist Planning’ (1940) enters into debates about the possibility (or otherwise) of centrally planning scientific and economic activity. This early article also foreshadows post-war debates within the Mont Pèlerin Socierty (formed in 1947) concerning the economic role of the state and the future of liberalism.
This Element examines the historical emergence of evolutionary economics, its development into a strong research theme after 1980, and how it has hosted a diverse set of approaches. Its focus on complexity, economic dynamics and bounded rationality is underlined. Its core ideas are compared with those of mainstream economics. But while evolutionary economics has inspired research in a number of areas in business studies and social science, these have become specialized and fragmented. Evolutionary economics lacks a sufficiently-developed core theory that might promote greater conversation across these fields. A possible unifying framework is generalized Darwinism. Stronger links could also be made with other areas of evolutionary research, such as with evolutionary anthropology and evolutionary psychology. As evolutionary economics has migrated from departments of economics to business schools, institutes of innovation studies and elsewhere, it also needs to address the problem of its lack of a single disciplinary location within academia.
This is a response to the criticism by Rod O'Donnell of the account of Keynes’ notion of a general theory in the book How Economics Forgot History (Hodgson, 2001). Several points of full agreement are noted, including the fact that Keynes’ work contains much discussion of historically specific institutions, including the financial and market institutions of modern capitalism. But it is argued here that even copious discussion of historically specific institutions is insufficient to indicate an adequate understanding or conceptual appreciation of historical periodisation or evolution, as developed in various ways by Karl Marx, the German historical school and the original American institutionalists. Keynes’ General Theory is best understood as a theory of modern capitalism. But Keynes did not have sufficient acquaintance with these historically oriented schools of thought to even define the concept of capitalism, or to make that specific historical association clear.
Definitions are crucial for institutional analysis. This article explains the nature of taxonomic definitions, with particular attention to their use in economics and other social sciences. Taxonomic definitions demarcate one species of entity from another. They are vital for the communication of meaning between scientists, who must share some basic conception of what types of entity they are investigating, to establish a division of labour over subsequent theoretical analysis and empirical investigation of the type of entity defined. Generally, taxonomic definitions build on past usage and are parsimonious: they are not meant to be explanations or descriptions. By contrast, overloaded taxonomic definitions can create square-one disagreement about what is being investigated. As illustrative examples, the paper considers different degrees of progress with attempts to define firms, markets and institutions.
Robert Neild (born 1924) has made a major contribution to economics and to peace studies. This paper provides a brief sketch of Neild's life and work. While noting his research in economic policy and peace studies, this essay devotes more attention to his largely unnoticed contributions to institutional and evolutionary economics since 1984. These are important in their own right, but they are especially notable because Cambridge heterodox economists have been devoted mainly to other approaches, including Marxism and post-Keynesianism. Neild's distinctive contribution is partly explained by his closeness to both Nicholas Kaldor and Gunnar Myrdal. Myrdal made explicit his adherence to the original American institutionalism: Neild extended that link to Cambridge.
The literature on the determinants of cross-country variation in financial system development identifies historical institutional factors, mostly rooted in colonial effects, as key causes. Using a sample of 39 African former European colonies for 2006–11, this paper investigates the extent to which the historical institutional determinants identified by legal origins, disease endowment, religion-based and ethnic fractionalisation theories explain current differences in financial system development across Africa. While most existing research focuses only on one financial system development dimension, namely financial system depth, this article considers also financial system access. The results do not support any of the above theories when depth measures are used, while three of them (legal origins, disease endowment and ethnic fractionalisation theories) are validated when using access measures. This suggests that in Africa financial system depth and access do not have common historical institutional determinants, pointing to the need for greater fine tuning of prevalent theories and empirical measures.
This introduction considers the highly influential contribution of Douglass C. North to economic history and institutional economics, as it developed from the 1960s until his death in 2015. It sketches the evolution of his arguments concerning the roles of institutions, organizations and human agency. North's conception of the economic actor became progressively more sophisticated, by acknowledging the role of ideology and adopting insights from cognitive science. Eventually, he abandoned the proposition that institutions are generally efficient, to propose instead that sub-optimal institutional forms could persist. A few noted criticisms of North's work are also considered here, ranging from those which are arguably off the mark, to others that retain some force. The contributions to this memorial issue are outlined at the end of this introduction.
In a seminal 1989 article, Douglass North and Barry Weingast argued that by making the monarch more answerable to Parliament, the Glorious Revolution of 1688 helped to secure property rights in England and stimulate the rise of capitalism. Similarly, Daron Acemoglu, Simon Johnson, and James Robinson later wrote that in the English Middle Ages there was a ‘lack of property rights for landowners, merchants and proto-industrialists’ and the ‘strengthening’ of property rights in the late 17th century ‘spurred a process of financial and commercial expansion’. There are several problems with these arguments. Property rights in England were relatively secure from the 13th century. A major developmental problem was not the security of rights but their feudal nature, including widespread ‘entails’ and ‘strict settlements’. 1688 had no obvious direct effect on property rights. Given these criticisms, what changes promoted the rise of capitalism? A more plausible answer is found by addressing the post-1688 Financial and Administrative Revolutions, which were pressured by the enhanced needs of war and Britain's expanding global role. Guided by a more powerful Parliament, this new financial system stimulated reforms to landed property rights, the growth of collateralizable property and saleable debt, and thus enabled the Industrial Revolution.
We present recent observation results of Sgr A* at millimeter obtained with VLBI arrays in Korea and Japan.
7 mm monitoring of Sgr A* is part of our AGN large project. The results at 7 epochs during 2013-2014, including high resolution maps, flux density and two-dimensional size measurements are presented. The source shows no significant variation in flux and structure related to the G2 encounter in 2014. According to recent MHD simulations by kawashima et al., flux and magnetic field energy can be expected to increase several years after the encounter; We will keep our monitoring in order to test this prediction.
Astrometric observations of Sgr A* were performed in 2015 at 7 and 3.5 millimeter simultaneously. Source-frequency phase referencing was applied and a combined ”core-shift” of Sgr A* and a nearby calibrator was measured. Future observations and analysis are necessary to determine the core-shift in each source.
This is a response to the useful comments by Allen, Barzel and Cole on Hodgson (2015a) on property rights. One section deals with some misrepresentations by Allen and Barzel. For instance, contrary to one interpretation, Hodgson (2015a) did not accuse the ‘economics of property rights’ of ignoring legal institutions or of making them generally irrelevant. This response further clarifies the standard meaning of rights, showing that it is at variance with usages in the ‘economics of property rights’. The issue of moral motivation, and its relevance for legal compliance, are also elaborated. Some arguments in Hodgson (2015a) have been described by critics as mere semantics, but in response it is argued – contrary to philosophical nominalism – that changes in the meanings of words can be analytically significant, and we should treat traditional meanings more seriously, especially when dealing with other disciplines such as law. (The cryptic reference to Humpty Dumpty comes in here). Before concluding, there is also a brief discussion of different ways of interpreting transaction costs.
Legal theorists and other commentators have long established a distinction between property and possession. According to this usage adopted here, possession refers to control of a resource, but property involves legally sanctioned rights. Strikingly, prominent foundational accounts of the ‘economics of property rights’ concentrate on possession, downplaying the issue of legitimate legal rights (Alchian, 1965, 1977; Barzel, 1994, 1997, 2002; von Mises, 1981). Some authors in this genre make a distinction between ‘economic rights’ and ‘legal rights’ where the former are more to do with possession or the capacity to control. They argue that ‘economic rights’ are primary and more relevant for understanding behaviour. But it is argued here that legal factors – involving recognition of authority and perceived justice or morality – have also to be brought into the picture to understand human motivation in modern societies, even in the economic sphere. As other authors including Hernando De Soto (2000) have pointed out, the neglect of the legal infrastructure that buttresses property has deleterious implications, including a failure to understand the role of property in supporting collateralized loans for innovation and economic development.
In their stimulating paper, Hindriks and Guala (2014) bridge the prominent alternative conceptions of institutions-as-rules and institutions-as-equilibria, by proposing a ‘rules in equilibrium’ interpretation. This comment argues that the task of defining institutions as a class of phenomena is different from the tasks of understanding or analysing them. Definitions are classification devices and are typically ill-based on behavioural outcomes such as equilibria. Accepting the useful insights of the Hindriks and Guala (2014) article, attention to the matter of definition reinstates a rules-based approach, notwithstanding the importance of understanding and analysing equilibria. The comment establishes a broad definition of institutions as systems of rules, which includes organizations. Finally this comment raised some of the problems involved in understanding the nature of institutional rules.
This is an introduction to the twelve essays in the special memorial issue in honor of Ronald Coase. It includes a brief account of Coase's long life and some of its many achievements. Coase's distinctive, worldly and empirically-grounded approach to economics is highlighted, claiming that it has yielded major theoretical and policy insights. This introduction concludes with a summary of the contributions of the twelve essays.
High blood pressure (BP) variability, which may be an important determinant of hypertensive end-organ damage, is emerging as an important predictor of cardiovascular health. Dietary antioxidants can influence BP, but their effects on variability are yet to be investigated. The aim of the present study was to assess the effects of vitamin E, vitamin C and polyphenols on the rate of daytime and night-time ambulatory BP variation. To assess these effects, two randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials were performed. In the first trial (vitamin E), fifty-eight individuals with type 2 diabetes were given 500 mg/d of RRR-α-tocopherol, 500 mg/d of mixed tocopherols or placebo for 6 weeks. In the second trial (vitamin C–polyphenols), sixty-nine treated hypertensive individuals were given 500 mg/d of vitamin C, 1000 mg/d of grape-seed polyphenols, both vitamin C and polyphenols, or neither (placebo) for 6 weeks. At baseline and at the end of the 6-week intervention, 24 h ambulatory BP and rate of measurement-to-measurement BP variation were assessed. Compared with placebo, treatment with α-tocopherol, mixed tocopherols, vitamin C and polyphenols did not significantly alter the rate of daytime or night-time systolic BP, diastolic BP or pulse pressure variation (P>0·05). Treatment with the vitamin C and polyphenol combination resulted in higher BP variation: the rate of night-time systolic BP variation (P= 0·022) and pulse pressure variation (P= 0·0036) were higher and the rate of daytime systolic BP variation was higher (P= 0·056). Vitamin E, vitamin C or grape-seed polyphenols did not significantly alter the rate of BP variation. However, the increase in the rate of BP variation suggests that the combination of high doses of vitamin C and polyphenols could be detrimental to treated hypertensive individuals.
This special issue of the Journal of Institutional Economics on the future of institutional and evolutionary economics consists of this introduction, four full essays, and two sizeable comments. Ménard and Shirley (2014) and Ménard (2014) discuss the future of the new institutional economics, and their two essays are followed by a reflection by Hodgson. Winter (2014) and Witt (2014) discuss the future of evolutionary economics, and their essays are followed by a comment by Stoelhorst. Here, we introduce these essays and comments by putting them in a broader historical perspective. In particular, we trace the common origins of modern institutional and evolutionary economics, particularly in the work of Veblen, as well as important additional influences such as Schumpeter and Simon. We highlight how the two approaches became disconnected, and signal the possibility of, and need for, re-establishing closer connections between them. Possible elements of a future overlapping research programme are outlined.
These reflections are prompted by the papers by Ménard (2014) and Ménard and Shirley (2014). Their essays centre on the path-breaking contributions to the ‘new institutional economics’ (NIE) by Ronald Coase, Douglass North and Oliver Williamson. In response, while recognising their substantial achievements, it is pointed out that these three thinkers had contrasting views on key points. Furthermore, Ménard's and Shirley's three ‘golden triangle’ NIE concepts – transaction costs, property rights and contracts – are themselves disputed. Once all this is acknowledged, differences of view appear within the NIE, raising interesting questions concerning its identity and boundaries, including its differences with the original institutionalism. There are sizeable overlaps between the two traditions. It is argued here that the NIE can learn from the original institutionalism, particularly when elaborating more dynamic analyses, and developing more nuanced, psychologically-grounded and empirically viable theories of human motivation.
This introduction considers the overall character and impact of the work of Elinor Ostrom (1933–2012). Her work is not only inter-disciplinary in character; it also bridges ‘original’ and ‘new’ traditions within institutional economics. Her studies of the governance of common-pool resources inspired multiple lines of enquiry in economics and other social sciences. It also carves out a policy approach that surpasses the market–state dichotomy. This broad impact is evidenced in the seven essays collected and introduced here.
Antony (Tony) M. Honoré was born in London in 1921 but was brought up in South Africa. He served in the British Army during the Second World War and was severely wounded in the Battle of El Alamein in 1942. After the war, he continued his studies at New College, Oxford, and he has lived and taught in Oxford for well over half a century, holding fellowships at several Oxford colleges. From 1971 to 1988, he was Regius Professor of Civil Law and a Fellow of All Souls College in Oxford. He is internationally known for his work on ownership, legal causation, and Roman law.
Being ‘institutional’ and ‘evolutionary’ is currently fashionable for economists. Since the early 1990s, almost every economist has learned to stress the importance of institutions and several Nobel Prizes have been awarded to institutionalists, including Ronald Coase, Douglass North, Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson. Evolutionary themes pervade game theory and other approaches in mainstream economics. We are all institutional and evolutionary economists now.
Of course, these widely shared terms obscure a variety of different basic assumptions and approaches. There is also no unanimity on what ‘institutions’ are and what ‘evolution’ means. Given the broad coverage of these terms, it is also possible to point to a wide variety of progenitors. Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Carl Menger, Alfred Marshall, Joseph Schumpeter, Friedrich Hayek and others were all, in a meaningful sense, evolutionary economists; they all developed an understanding of the dynamic processes of structural change. They all, furthermore, paid much attention to the effects of social institutions on economic performance. Accordingly, evolutionary and institutional economics as found today have a rich variety of ancestors, in part accounting for the diversity of contemporary approaches.