Mark Pennington: Robust Political Economy and the Priority of Markets

Normative

This essay offers a “nonideal” case for giving institutional priority to markets and private contracting in the basic structure of society. It sets out a “robust political economy” framework to examine how different political economic regime types cope with frictions generated by the epistemic limitations of decision-makers and problems of incentive incompatibility.

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Latest Papers

Theoretical Paper

Mark Pennington: Hayek on Complexity, Uncertainty and Pandemic Response

This paper draws on Hayek’s distinction between simple and complex phenomena to understand the nature of the challenge facing policymakers in responding to the new coronavirus pandemic. It shows that while government action is justifiable there may be few systemic mechanisms that enable policymakers to distinguish better from worse policy responses, or to make such distinctions in sufficient time.
Empirical Paper

Francesco Chiodelli and Emiliano Esposito: The regulatory environment of illegal access to public housing in Naples

This paper focuses on the informal occupation of public housing in Naples (Italy), analysing the fraudulent takeover of housing units. An in-depth look at this case study contributes to the international debate on the nexus between urban informality and the state, showing the fundamental, multifaceted role of public institutions in shaping the illegal city.
Theoretical Paper

John Meadowcroft: Buchanan at the American Founding: The Constitutional Political Economy of a Republic of Equals and Unequals

James M. Buchanan cited the American Founding as an important inspiration for his constitutional vision. His insistence on unanimous constitutional agreement highlights the fact that the Constitutional Convention did not obtain the consent of the black Americans. Accordingly, Buchanan’s work leads to an appreciation of the Founders as an archetype of the constitutional mentality that he advocated throughout his work, but also to an understanding that the Founding fell short of his ideal of genuinely consensual politics.

Browse All Papers

Theoretical Paper

Mark Pennington: Hayek on Complexity, Uncertainty and Pandemic Response

This paper draws on Hayek’s distinction between simple and complex phenomena to understand the nature of the challenge facing policymakers in responding to the new coronavirus pandemic. It shows that while government action is justifiable there may be few systemic mechanisms that enable policymakers to distinguish better from worse policy responses, or to make such distinctions in sufficient time.
Empirical Paper

Francesco Chiodelli and Emiliano Esposito: The regulatory environment of illegal access to public housing in Naples

This paper focuses on the informal occupation of public housing in Naples (Italy), analysing the fraudulent takeover of housing units. An in-depth look at this case study contributes to the international debate on the nexus between urban informality and the state, showing the fundamental, multifaceted role of public institutions in shaping the illegal city.
Theoretical Paper

John Meadowcroft: Buchanan at the American Founding: The Constitutional Political Economy of a Republic of Equals and Unequals

James M. Buchanan cited the American Founding as an important inspiration for his constitutional vision. His insistence on unanimous constitutional agreement highlights the fact that the Constitutional Convention did not obtain the consent of the black Americans. Accordingly, Buchanan’s work leads to an appreciation of the Founders as an archetype of the constitutional mentality that he advocated throughout his work, but also to an understanding that the Founding fell short of his ideal of genuinely consensual politics.
Theoretical Paper

Paul Lewis: The Innovation Systems Approach: an Austrian and Ostromian Perspective

The innovation systems (IS) approach—developed by Richard Nelson, Christopher Freeman and Bengt-Ake Lundvall, amongst others—has become perhaps the dominant approach in the academic literature for the study of innovation. This paper argues that the work of Friedrich Hayek and Elinor Ostrom can be used to draw attention to some potential difficulties with the way in which the IS approach is often used to guide policy.
Empirical

Volha Charnysh: Diversity, Institutions, and Economic Development: Post-WWII Displacement in Poland

How does cultural diversity affect social organization? Do institutional differences between diverse and homogeneous communities have implications for economic development? This paper argues that heterogeneity not only impedes informal mechanisms of cooperation, but also increases demand for formal institutions. Greater reliance on formal law and public authority, in turn, facilitates economic development by enabling arm’s length transactions and encouraging entrepreneurship.
Empirical

Shelby Grossman: The Politics of Order in Informal Markets: Evidence from Lagos

Property rights are important for economic exchange, but in much of the world they are not publicly guaranteed. Private market associations can fill this gap by providing an institutional structure to enforce agreements, but with this power comes the ability to extort from group members. Under what circumstances do private associations provide a stable environment for economic activity?
Normative

Adam Tebble: More Open Borders and Deep Structural Transformation

Building upon recent work on epistemic varieties of liberalism, avant-garde political agency and the theory and practice of activism, I claim that a liberal defence of more open borders does not presuppose either indifference to the problem of the deep structural sources of poverty in poorer countries, or the absence of an account of those structures’ transformation.
Empirical

Ilia and Jennifer Murtazashvili: Wealth Destroying States

We use evidence from Afghanistan to illustrate how political instability and the absence of meaningful political constraints enables the predatory state. Foreign aid and foreign military intervention amplify the wealth-destroying features of political institutions.
Normative

Bart Wilson: The Meaning of Property in Things

What is property, and why does our species happen to have it? In this paper I explore how Homo sapiens acquires and cognizes the custom of property and why this might be relevant to understanding how property works in the 21st century.
Normative

Brian Kogelmann: Epistemic Polycentricity and the Theory of Public Entrepreneurship

Political theorists have recently shifted their focus from the normative properties of institutions to their epistemic ones. One popular thesis in the current literature is that democracy has desirable epistemic properties, at least when compared to other methods of social choice.
Empirical

Sara Lowes: Matrilineal Kinship and Spousal Cooperation: Evidence from the Matrilineal Belt

I examine how matrilineal relative to patrilineal kinship systems affect spousal cooperation. In matrilineal kinship systems, lineage and inheritance are traced through women.
Empirical

Dominic Parker and Bryan Leonard: Private Versus Government Ownership of Natural Resources: Evidence from the Bakken

Land ownership in the United States extends below ground, whereas most governments retain subsurface ownership. Which system generates greater resource use?