Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Understanding the economics of limited access orders: incentives, organizations and the chronology of developments


In ‘Violence and Social Orders’, North, Wallis and Weingast highlight the need of societies to control large-scale violence. In response to this need, a variety of social orders has emerged with differing institutional, political and economic characteristics. One of these social orders is the limited access order that was prevalent in most of history and still is nowadays. Taking the conceptual framework of North et al. as a starting point, we make three advances to their analysis of limited access orders. First, we analyse the incentive structure of actors involved, using a formal model of the main interactions in a limited access order. Second, we decompose organizations into two types and analyse their respective roles. Third, we use insights from historical research to scrutinize the chronology of the rise of organizations. Jointly, this allows us to refine and substantiate the insights gained by North et al., highlight the role of organizations and place the start of relevant developments earlier in time.

Corresponding author
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

D. Acemoglu and S. Johnson (2005), ‘Unbundling Institutions’, Journal of Political Economy, 113 (5): 949995.

R. C. Allen (2001), ‘The Great Divergence in European Wages and Prices from the Middle Ages to the First World War’, Explorations in Economic History, 38: 411447.

R. Bates (2010), ‘A review of Douglass C. North, John Joseph Wallis, and Barry R. Weingast's Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History’, Journal of Economic Literature, 48 (3): 752756.

R. Bates , A. Greif , and S. Singh (2002), ‘Organizing Violence’, Journal of Conflict Resolution, 46 (5): 599628.

T. De Moor (2008), ‘The Silent Revolution: A New Perspective on the Emergence of Commons, Guilds, and Other Forms of Corporate Collective Action in Western Europe’, International Review of Social History, 53 (S16): 179212.

E. Frankema and A. Masé (2014), ‘An Island Drifting Apart. Why Haiti is Mired in Poverty Whiule the Dominican Republic Forges Ahead’, Journal of International Development, 26 (1): 128148.

A. Greif , P. Milgrom , and B. R. Weingast (1994), ‘Coordination, Commitment and Enforcement: The Case of the Merchant Gild’, Journal of Political Economy, 102 (4): 745776.

E. Grimmer-Solem (2015), ‘The Mature Limited Access Order at the Doorstep: Imperial Germany and Contemporary China in Transition’, Constitutional Political Economy, 26 (1): 103120.

H. Grossman (2002), ‘“Make us a King”: Anarchy, Predation, and the State’, European Journal of Political Economy, 18 (1): 3146.

P. Lloyd (2001), ‘The Origins of the von Thünen-Mill-Pareto-Wicksell-Cobb-Douglas function’, History of Political Economy, 33 (1): 119.

D. C. North , J. J. Wallis , and B. R. Weingast (2009), Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

S. Ogilvie (2014), ‘The Economics of Guilds’, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 28 (4): 169192.

M. Prak (2015), ‘Citizens, Soldiers and Civic Militias in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe’, Past & Present, 228 (1): 93123.

J. D. Tracy (2003), ‘On the Dual Origins of Long-Term Debt in Medieval Europe’, in M. H. Boone , C. A. Davids and P. Janssens (eds.), Urban Public Debts, Urban Government and the Market for Annuities in Western Europe (14th–18th centuries), Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, pp. 1324.

B. van Bavel (2010), Manors and Markets: Economy and Society in the Low Countries, 500–1600, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

B. van Bavel (2015), ‘History as a Laboratory to Better Understand the Formation of Institutions’, Journal of Institutional Economics, 11 (1): 6991.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Institutional Economics
  • ISSN: 1744-1374
  • EISSN: 1744-1382
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-institutional-economics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 7
Total number of PDF views: 100 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 360 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 20th September 2016 - 23rd September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.