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The Political Economy of Trust
Institutions, Interests, and Inter-Firm Cooperation in Italy and Germany

$129.00 (C)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics

  • Author: Henry Farrell, George Washington University, Washington DC
  • Date Published: August 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521886499

$ 129.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • Trust and cooperation are at the heart of the two most important approaches to comparative politics – rational choice and political culture. Yet we know little about trust’s relationship to political institutions. This book sets out a rationalist theory of how institutions – and in particular informal institutions - can affect trust without reducing it to fully determinate expectations. It then shows how this theory can be applied to comparative political economy, and in particular to explaining inter-firm cooperation in industrial districts, geographical areas of intense small firm collaboration. The book compares trust and cooperation in two prominent districts in the literature, one in Emilia Romagna, Italy, and the other in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It also sets out and applies a theory of how national informal institutions may change as a result of changes in global markets, and shows how similar mechanisms may explain persistent distrust too among Sicilian Mafiosi.

    Reviews & endorsements

    “Farrell’s The Political Economy of Trust is a tour de force. His book takes us through the burgeoning literature on social trust, social capital, institutions, and networks. Farrell has done us a service by clearly distinguishing among these terms, carefully carving out a distinct analytical space for each concept, and identifying their respective explanatory purchase. One of his main goals is to show that the concept of trust provides a deeper understanding of cooperation than institutions by themselves. He succeeds brilliantly.
    “Farrell’s masterful treatment of the literatures on social capital, culture, and rational choice approaches to institutions provides us with a more complete picture of the causes and consequences of institutions. His case studies of firms in Emilia Romagna, Italy and Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany, along with his final chapter on the Mafia in Sicily provide the ideal material to illustrate his complex ideas and demonstrate their empirical grounding.”
    -James A. Caporaso, University of Washington

    “Henry Farrell’s important book is a crucial contribution to the literature on social trust, and will be particularly influential among those seeking to understand the roots of coordinated market arrangements in advanced political economies. Boldly bridging the divide between rational-choice microfoundations and institutionalist macro-theorizing, while also bringing in culturalist perspectives, Farrell shows how trust can be grounded in informal institutions that were created for quite different reasons than the production or sustenance of cooperation. In doing so, he provides a powerful new way of understanding the role of trust in social, political, and economic life.”
    -Jacob S. Hacker, Yale University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2009
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521886499
    • length: 256 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 160 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.49kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. A theory of institutions and trust
    3. Varieties of capitalism and industrial districts
    4. Trust and institutions in industrial districts
    5. Accounting for change in informal institutions
    6. Informal institutions without trust: relations among Mafiosi in Sicily
    7. Conclusions

  • Author

    Henry Farrell, George Washington University, Washington DC

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