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The economic history of sovereignty: communal responsibility, the extended family, and the firm

Boerner, Lars and Ritschl, Albrecht (2008) The economic history of sovereignty: communal responsibility, the extended family, and the firm. Economic History Working Papers, 110/08. Department of Economic History, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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Economic institutions encompassing increasingly sophisticated concepts of risk-sharing and liability flourished in Europe since the High Middle Ages. These innovations occurred in an environment of fragmented local jurisdictions, not within the framework of the territorial state. In this short paper we attempt to sketch a unifying approach towards the interpretation of the emergence of these institutions. We argue that communal responsibility in medieval city states created incentives for excessive risk-taking by individual merchants, and that the emergence of firms mitigated this problem. We also find that entity shielding in the sense of Hansmann et al. (2006) arose endogenously and is not primarily the result of regulation by local authorities.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2008 Lars Boerner & Albrecht Ritschl
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
Sets: Departments > Economic History
Collections > Economists Online
Identification Number: 110/08
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2009 18:32

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