Introduction: Douglass North’s NIEH in Context

  • Matthijs Krul
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Economic Thought book series (PHET)


The economic historian Douglass North is most famous for developing a theory that interprets the causes of economic change by explaining them in terms of social institutions. This theory, the New Institutionalist Economic History, has had a far-reaching influence. In this chapter, Krul explains how this theory originated in existing institutionalist ideas within economics, how it built on these ideas and developed them further, and how it contributed to the rise of a new way of thinking across the fields of social science concerned with economic thought. Krul also discusses the reception of North’s theory, both by its supporters and its critics. As shown here, for understanding North’s approach it is important to distinguish the specifics of his theory from other forms of New Institutionalist Economics.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthijs Krul
    • 1
  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for Social AnthropologyBerlinGermany

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