The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

North, Douglass Cecil (Born 1920)

  • Avner Greif
Reference work entry


A pioneer of the New Institutional Economics, Douglass North has built upon the property rights and transaction cost approaches of Coase and others to explain economic growth in terms not of changes in technology and productive factors but of institutional and organizational change. His most recent work stresses the need to integrate insights from cognitive science into the examination of the interplay among belief systems, institutions, and economic performance. Institutions reduce the uncertainties that would otherwise overwhelm cognitive capacity in complex social situations, but the resulting bias in our beliefs can lead to the persistence of inefficient institutions.


Alchian, A. Cheung, S. Cliometric Society Cliometrics Coase, R. Commons, J. Demsetz, H. Feudalism Fogel, R. Growth and institutions Hayek, F. Industrial revolution Institutionalism, old Kuznets, S. Mitchell, W. New economic history New institutional economics North, D. Patents Peasants Property rights Social norms Society for the New Institutional Economics Stagnation State, theory of Tax transaction costs Technical change West, the 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Avner Greif
    • 1
  1. 1.