The Contribution of the New Institutional Economics to an Understanding of the Transition Problem

  • Douglass C. North
Part of the Studies in Development Economics and Policy book series (SDEP)


Institutions and the way they evolve shape economic performance. Institutions affect economic performance by determining (together with the technology employed) the cost of transacting and producing. They are composed of formal rules, of informal constraints and of their enforcement characteristics; while formal rules can be changed overnight by the polity, informal constraints change very slowly. Both are ultimately shaped by the subjective perceptions people possess to explain the world around them which in turn determine explicit choices of formal rules and evolving informal constraints. Institutions differ from organizations. The former are the rules of the game; the latter are groups of individuals bound together by a common objective function (economic organizations are firms, trade unions, cooperatives; political organizations are political parties, legislative bodies, etc.).


Transition Economy Institutional Framework Formal Rule Institutional Economic Path Dependence 
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© United Nations University 2005

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  • Douglass C. North

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