Not All Is Markets

  • Erwin Bulte
  • Paul Richards
  • Maarten Voors
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Agricultural Economics and Food Policy book series (AEFP)


This chapter provides a short review of current debates about institutions, focusing on the economist’s and the anthropologist’s perspective. We start with narratives by economists on the origins and evolution of institutions (e.g. transaction costs and efficiency, the struggle between different social groups). We then augment the conventional focus on markets and hierarchy (Oliver Williamson) by introducing a four-field framework for analysing institutions, which is developed along two axes: the group—and the grid dimension. This framework, proposed by Douglas, has gained little traction in economics until now, but we show how it can be useful to understand institutional dynamics in rural development in West Africa.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erwin Bulte
    • 1
  • Paul Richards
    • 2
  • Maarten Voors
    • 1
  1. 1.Development Economics GroupWageningen University and ResearchWageningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Directorate of Research and PlanningNjala UniversityMokondeSierra Leone

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