nep-his New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2010‒09‒03
fourteen papers chosen by
Bernardo Batiz-Lazo
University of Leicester

  1. The Long-Run Weight of Communism or the Weight of Long-Run History? By Roland, Gerald
  2. From Regional to Intercontinental Trade: The Successive European Trade Empires from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century in Asia By Sami Bensassi
  3. How Polycentric is a Monocentric City? The Role of Agglomeration Economies By Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt; Nicolai Wendland
  4. History, Culture, and Trade: A Dynamic Gravity Approach By Douglas L. Campbell
  5. "Ownership Changes and Economic Efficiency: Plant-Level Evidence from the Japanese Cotton Spinning Industry, 1900-1911" (in Japanese) By Tetsuji Okazaki
  6. Four Centuries of British Economic Growth: The Roles of Technology and Population By Jakob B. Madsen; James B. Ang; Rajabrata Banerjee
  7. An Admiralty for Asia: Isaac le Maire and conflicting conceptions about the corporate governance of the VOC By Gelderblom, O.; Jong, A. de; Jonker, J.
  8. The Creation of a Market for Retail Electricity Supply By Ramteen Sioshansi
  9. Research Institutes in Germany: Basic and Applied Science institutionalized? By Fjaestad, Maja
  10. Why Are the Elite in China Motivated to Promote Growth By Zang, Xiaowei
  11. Josh Lerner: Recipient of the 2010 Global Award for Entrepreneurship Research By Braunerhjelm, Pontus; Parker, Simon
  12. Institution [Un]Building: Decentralising Government and the Case of Rwanda By Jesse McConnell
  13. The Gas Transportation Network as a ‘Lego’ Game: How to Play with It? By Jean Michel Glachant; Michelle Hallack

  1. By: Roland, Gerald
    Abstract: This study provides evidence that culture understood as values and beliefs moves very slowly. Despite massive institutional change, values and beliefs in transition countries have not changed much over the last 20 years. Evidence suggests that culture is affected by the long run historical past, in particular the participation in empires for over 100 years. Current institutional evolutions in transition countries might be more affected by their long run past than by the communist experience of the twentieth century.
    Keywords: culture, institutional change, transition, economic history
    Date: 2010
  2. By: Sami Bensassi
    Abstract: For a very long time, the areas available for continuous long-distance trade were limited to territories the size of Braudel's Mediterranée (1949). Whatever the commercial organizations (merchants in the Roman or the Fatimid Empires, the Hanseatic League, the Florentine Companies), their trade was not able to directly handle branches more than a month's sailing from their main base (in the best conditions). During the three centuries after Vasco de Gama had reached India, European trading areas dramatically expanded to the shores of Asia, and a long period of harsh competition set the East India Companies of the main European powers of the time against one another. This paper intents to provide answers to two questions: what were the elements that allowed these companies to maintain transactions over such vast areas? And why were some of these companies far more successful than the others? To answer these two questions we have available extensive literature covering the intersection of history, business and economy, generally focusing on one company or on a particular aspect of trade (Chauduri, 1978; Israel, 1989; Subrahmanyan, 1993; Ames, 1996). Our task will be to briefly review these sources, to extract information from them and to compare the economic adaptations and innovations that allowed these companies to be the greatest of their time.
    Keywords: European Trade Empires; Estado da Índia; Dutch East India Company; English East India Company.
    JEL: B52 F02 N70
    Date: 2010–08–11
  3. By: Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt; Nicolai Wendland
    Abstract: Can the demise of the monocentric economy across cities during the 20th century be explained by decreasing transport costs to the city center or are other fundamental forces at work? Taking a hybrid perspec¬tive of classical bid-rent theory and a world where clustering of economic activity is driven by (knowledge) spillovers, Berlin, Germany, from 1890 to 1936 serves as a case in point. We assess the extent to which firms in an environment of decreasing transport costs and industrial transformation face a trade-off between distance to the CBD and land rents and how agglomeration economies come into play in shaping their location deci¬sions. Our results suggest that an observable flattening of the traditional distance to the CBD gradient may mask the emergence of significant agglomeration economies, especially within predominantly service-based inner city districts.
    Keywords: Transport Innovations, Land Values, Location Productivity, Agglomeration Economies, Economic History, Berlin.
    JEL: N7 N9 R33 O12
    Date: 2010–08–24
  4. By: Douglas L. Campbell
    Abstract: What determines trade patterns? Habit persistence in consumer tastes and learning-by-doing in production imply that history and culture matter. Deriving a dynamic gravity equation from a simple model, it is shown that cultural similarity is a product of history, so that trade patterns are a function of bilateral GDP, current trade costs, and the past history of trade costs. Using a trade data set which spans from 1870 to 2000, I demonstrate that many gravity variables operate via lagged trade, that historical trade shocks matter, and that trade patterns are persistent, even across centuries.
    Keywords: Dynamic Gravity Equation, Endogenous Preferences, Habit Persistence, Learning By-Doing.
    JEL: F10 F12 F22 N70
    Date: 2010–08–26
  5. By: Tetsuji Okazaki (Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo)
    Abstract: This paper investigates how ownership changes affect the plant performance, focusing on the cotton spinning industry in early twentieth century Japan, where many plants experienced ownership changes. Through analyses of detailed plant-level data, it is revealed that, after ownership changes, plants tended to focus on low grade and low price products and, at the same time, total factor productivity, machine productivity and profitability of the plants significantly increased. These results indicate that the plants were managed and utilized more efficiently under the new ownership.
    Date: 2010–08
  6. By: Jakob B. Madsen; James B. Ang; Rajabrata Banerjee
    Abstract: Using long historical data for Britain over the period 1620-2006, this paper seeks to explain the importance of innovative activity, population growth and other factors in inducing the transition from the Malthusian trap to the post-Malthusian growth regime. Furthermore, the paper tests the ability of two competing second-generation endogenous growth models to account for the British growth experience. The results suggest that innovative activity was an important force in shaping the Industrial Revolution and that the British growth experience is consistent with Schumpeterian growth theory.
    JEL: O30 O40
    Date: 2010–07
  7. By: Gelderblom, O.; Jong, A. de; Jonker, J.
    Abstract: The Dutch East India Company or VOC in 1602 showed many characteristics of modern corporations, including limited liability, freely transferable shares, and well-defined managerial functions. However, we challenge the notion of the VOC as the precursor of modern corporations to argue that the company was a hybrid, combining elements from traditional partnerships with a governance structure modeled on existing public-private partnerships. The company’s charter reflected this hybrid structure in the preeminent position given to the Estates General as the VOC’s main principal, to the detriment of shareholders’ interests. Protests by Isaac le Maire and Willem Usselinx about the board’s disregard for shareholders rooted in a conviction that it ought to conform to traditional partnerships with their judicious balance between stakeholders’ interests. However, the perceived public interest of a strong military presence in Asia prevented shareholders’ protests from changing the corporate governance.
    Keywords: dutch east india company;VOC;corporate governance
    Date: 2010–06–24
  8. By: Ramteen Sioshansi
    Abstract: This paper provides a survey of the history and future of storage development in the US and policy and analytical questions relating to storage. The paper discusses the history of storage development in the US, and some of the limitations in how storage investment was justified beginning in the 1970s, when much of the US's current storage capacity was built. Then we discuss potential uses of storage beyond serving as an alternative to peaking capacity and uses of storage by entities other than a traditional vertically-integrated utility. After we lay out some policy and research questions related to energy storage and show how questions such as regulation, market products, and ownership can greatly affect the true value of storage and incentives for and efficiency of storage use and investment.
    Keywords: Energy storage, electricity markets, investment incentives
    Date: 2010–07–12
  9. By: Fjaestad, Maja (CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies, Royal Institute of Technology)
    Abstract: The organization of post-war science has taken distinctly different paths in different countries, based on historical rationales, national funding patterns and institutional structure. The German Max Planck-Society is a research-only network of basic research institutes whose organization and establishment relies heavily on the high valuation of basic research, as well as principles of separation of basic and applied science and ideals of independent research. The paper investigates the historical roots and organizational character of this scientific milieu. Also, the separation between the Max Planck-Society and the more industrially orientated Franuhofer institutes is discussed and problemized. One conclusions is that in spite distinctly different roles in the German research landscape, separating basic from applied research, the two organization both stresses their usefulness and contribution to the “common good” in official presentations.
    Keywords: Research institutes; basic research; applied research; Max Planck Society; Fraunhofer Society; Germany; Research policy
    JEL: O00
    Date: 2010–08–25
  10. By: Zang, Xiaowei
    Abstract: Rapid economic development in China in the post-1978 era has been considered ‘intriguing’ and ‘puzzling’ since it occurred under the dominance of the Chinese Communist Party – the fusion of politics and economics is supposed to be a powerful impediment to market growth. Scholars have proposed different accounts to explain this paradox, with particular emphasis on the role of the political elite in economic progress. This paper contributes to this literature by studying why the political elite are motivated to promote economic development in China. It argues that like politicians in other types of political regimes, autocratic leaders are interested in high growth rates. It also studies the historical development of China’s developmental elites to understand their motivations for economic growth in the reform era. To better understand whether or not elites in developing countries promote economic growth, scholars should focus on factors such as historical experience, political stability, leadership turnover, or elite perceptions about the impact of growth on their hold on power rather than the differences between autocracy and democracy.
    Keywords: China, democracy, autocracy, development, growth, elites
    Date: 2010
  11. By: Braunerhjelm, Pontus (CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies, Royal Institute of Technology); Parker, Simon (University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada.)
    Abstract: This article describes the academic contributions of the 2010 recipient of the Global Award for Entrepreneurship Research, Professor Josh Lerner of the Harvard Business School. Lerner’s empirical research on the inter-relationship between venture capital, innovation and entrepreneurship has greatly extended and improved our understanding of one of the major drivers of growth in modern economies. The first part of this article explains Lerner’s contributions as regards the structure and organization of the venture capital industry. Later, his most important publications on entrepreneurship, innovation and intellectual property rights are surveyed. Several aspects of Lerner’s policy-oriented work are then outlined, before the article closes with a brief conclusion.
    Keywords: Global Award; Venture capital; Patent; Entrepreneurship; Innovation
    JEL: G24 L26 O31
    Date: 2010–08–25
  12. By: Jesse McConnell
    Abstract: The challenge of institution building in African countries remains a major threat to the establishment of peace and justice, and the entrenchment of sustainable social and economic development. This may be attributed largely to the dynamic and complex social landscape of most African countries. While single borders bring political definition to post-independent countries, such countries often struggle to find a single national identity that transcends numerous tribal, ethnic or historic identities. The role of central government in creating an effective structure of governance is crucial in the steps towards postconflict nation-building. However, national institution building is not necessarily the right answer, especially in contexts difficult to govern, such as vast geographic areas or complex social and ethnic realities. It is in this sense that this paper – and the initial states of this research – seeks to find an alternative to ‘institution building’ as a way forward in good governance practices, suggesting rather a decentralised and localised approach. The case study that will be brought to be bear as an example of this is Rwanda and a recent governance mechanism – Imihigo – as an approach that has helped create a new national identity while instilling a culture of service delivery and accountability amongst its public servants and political leadership. What this paper will seek to argue – in looking at the approach by Rwanda in decentralising its government – is that institution building is not necessarily the way forward in Africa’s ‘good governance’ discourse. Instead, this paper – and the broader borders of what my research is seeking to explore and understand – seeks to present a reformed approach to good governance in Africa, especially contexts that have been divided along complex lines such as ethnicity, geography, national identity, or the competition for natural resources. Though it will be beyond the scope of this research paper specifically, intended environments that this research is hoped to be applicable – and will therefore involve further research around the applicability of such – include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Burundi and Sudan.
    Keywords: governance; decentralisation; institution; service delivery; Rwanda
    Date: 2010–05–17
  13. By: Jean Michel Glachant; Michelle Hallack
    Abstract: Gas transportation networks exhibit a quite substantial variety of technical and economical properties ranges roughly from an entrenched natural monopoly to near to an open competition platform. This empirical fact is widely known and accepted. However the corresponding frame of network analysis is lacking or quite fuzzy. As an infrastructure, can a gas network evolve or not from a natural monopoly (an essential facility) to an open infrastructure (a “highway” facility)? How can it be done with the same transportation infrastructure components within the same physical gas laws? Our paper provides a unified analytical frame for all types of gas transportation networks. It shows that gas transport networks are made of several components which can be combined in different ways. This very “lego property” of gas networks permits different designs with different economic properties while a certain infrastructural base and set of gas laws is common to all transportation networks. Therefore the notion of “gas transportation network” as a general and abstract concept does not have robust economic properties. The variety and modularity of gas networks come from the diversity of components, the variety of components combinations and the historical inclusion of components in the network. First, a gas network can combine different types of network components (primary or secondary ones). Second, the same components can be combined in different ways (notably regarding actual connections and flow paths). Third, as a capital-intensive infrastructure combining various specific assets, gas transportation networks show strong “path dependency” properties as they evolve slowly over time by moving from an already existing base. The heterogeneity of gas networks as sets of components comes firstly from the heterogeneity of the network components themselves, secondly from the different possibilities to combine these components and thirdly from the ‘path dependence’ character of gas network constructions. These three characteristics of gas networks explain the diversity of economic proprieties of the existent gas networks going from natural monopoly to competitive markets.
    Keywords: gas transport networks, regulatory economics, network regulation
    JEL: L5 L29 D42 D61 D6
    Date: 2010–05–13
  14. By: Angèle Christin (Princeton University)
    Abstract: Two major theories structure debates on the relationship between socioeconomic status and aesthetic tastes. The distinction hypothesis, developed by French scholars with French data, claims that high-status people with highbrow tastes shun popular culture. The “omnivores” hypothesis, developed by U.S. sociologists with American data, states that highbrow respondents have on the contrary more tolerant and omnivorous musical attitudes than other respondents. Do these propositions reflect real differences between the United States and France with regard to socioeconomic variation in musical tastes, or differing theoretical traditions in the two countries? This research provides some support for both views. An examination of data on musical tastes (Survey of Public Participation in the Arts 2002, Enquête sur les Pratiques Culturelles des Français 2008) reveals a very similar organization of aesthetic judgment in the U.S. and France: in both countries highbrow respondents are omnivorous. But significant differences between the two countries are also documented for older cohorts. Older cohorts follow a pattern of distinction in France, but not in the United States. This finding delineates how once-real differences between the two countries in the relationship between socioeconomic status and aesthetic tastes may have been blunted by historical change.
    Keywords: aesthetic tastes, distinction, omnivorousness, France
    JEL: Z11 D12 H31 O52
    Date: 2010–07

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