Avner Greif

Avner Greif

Faculty Webpage

(650) 725-8936

Department of Economics
Stanford, CA 94305

Bowman Family Endowed Professor

Department of Economics

  • European Economic History
  • Game Theory
  • Institutional Economics

Current Research Affiliations:

  • Member, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Program on Institutions, Organization, and Growth. 2003
  • Senior Fellow, Stanford Center for International Development, 2004


Institutions and the Path to the Modern Economy: Lessons from Medieval Trade. Cambridge

University Press. 2006.

Winner of the (2005-6) Gyorgi Ranki Biennial Prize for an Outstanding Book on the

Economic History of Europe, awarded by the American Economic History


Winner of the Veblen 150 Prize given by the Association for Evolutionary Economics

and The European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy.

Chinese by CICIT Publishing House, Beijing. China. 2008.

Japanese by NTT Publishing Company, Tokyo. 2009.

Analytic Narratives. Joint with Bob Bates, Margaret Levi, Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, and Barry

Weingast. Princeton University Press. 1998.

Published in Chinese by Remnin, 2007.

Published and Forthcoming Papers:

“A Theory of Moral Persistence: Crypto-morality and Political Legitimacy.” 2010. Under

revision for the Journal of Comparative Economics. (With Steve Tadelis.)

"Cultural and Institutional Bifurcation: China and Europe Compared." 2010. American

Economic Review, 100 (May): 135–140. (With Guido Tabellini.)

“The curious commentary on the citation practices of Avner Greif.” 2009. Public Choice,

141(Dec.): 273-275

“Qu’est ce que l’analyse institutionnelle?” Tracés, French Journal of Social Sciences. 2009. (In


“Institutional and Organizational Design.” (Joint with Christopher Kingston). Forthcoming in the

Handbook of Rational Choice. Edited by Victor Nee. 2008.

“The Administrative Foundations of Self-Enforcing Constitutions.” (Joint with Yadira González

de Lara and Saumitra Jha). American Economic Review. May. 2008.

“Toward Political Economy of Implementation: The Impact of Administrative Power on

Institutional and Economic Developments”. Elhanan Helpman (ed.), Institutions and

Growth. Harvard University Press. 2008.

“Self-enforcing Institutions: Comparative and Historical Institutional Analysis.” Journal of

Comparative Economic & Social Systems, 2008, Vols. 2-3.(In Chinese. Translated by

Han Fuguo. Zhejiang University.)

Family Structure and European Institutional Exceptionalism: the Origin of Corporations.

American Economic Review. Papers and Proceedings. May, 2006.

The Birth of Impersonal Exchange: The Community Responsibility System and Impartial

Justice. Journal of Economic Perspective. 2006. Spring Vol. 20 (2): 221-236.

Douglass C. North. Entry for the Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. 2005. Edited by Steven N.


Preface to The Economic Sociology of Capitalism. Edited by Victor Nee and Richard Swedberg.

2005. Princeton University Press. Pp. ix-xxxi.

“Commitment, Coercion, and Markets: The Nature and Dynamics of Institutions Supporting

Exchange.” 2005. In the Handbook for New Institutional Economics. Edited by Claude

Menard and Mary M. Shirley. Norwell MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Chapter 28.

Comment on “Framing the Debate Over Growth in the Ancient Economy,” by Hitchner and

Saller. In The Ancient Economy, Evidence and Models. 2005. Edited by J.G. Manning

and Ian Morris. Stanford: Stanford University Press, pp. 239-42.

“On the Potential and Limits of Institutional Analysis." 2005. In The Institutions of Governance.

Edited by Masaru Kohno. (In Japanese.)

“Impersonal Exchange without Impartial Law: The Community Responsibility System.” 2004.

Chicago Journal of International Law, Vol. 5(1), pp. 109-138.

“A Theory of Endogenous Institutional Change.” (Joint with David Laitin.) 2004. The American

Political Science Review, Vol. 98 (4, Nov.), pp. 14-48.

Designated by the American Political Science Foundations, among the “Top 50 Articles”

in the American Political Science Review. Designation is based on by article downloaded

from January 2003 to June 2005.

“The Political Economy of Kinship Societies” 2004. Joint with Robert Bates and Smita Singh.

Politics from Anarchy to Democracy. Edited by I. Morris, Jo. Oppenheimer and K.E.

Soltan. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Pp. 66-88.

“Games and History: The Usefulness of Game Theory for Historical Analysis. 2003.

Información Comercial Española. Revista De Economia. (Published in Spanish.)

“Organizing Violence.” 2002. Joint with Robert Bates and Smita Singh. The Journal of Conflict

Resolution, 46(5, Oct.): 599-628.

“Institutions and Impersonal Exchange: From Communal to Individual Responsibility.” 2002.

The Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics, 158(1): 168-204.

“Organizational Genesis, Identity and Control: The Transformation of Banking in Renaissance

Florence.” (Joint with Gregory Besharov.) 2001. Comment on Padgett. In A. Casella and

J. Rauch (eds.). Integrating Market and Networks Models of the Economy. Russell New

York: Russell Sage.

“Impersonal Exchange and the Origin of Markets: From the Community Responsibility System

to Individual Legal Responsibility in Pre-modern Europe.” 2001. Chapter 2 in

Communities and Markets. Edited by M. Aoki and Y. Hayami. Oxford University Press.

Comment on “Development History” by Professor Nicholas Crafts. 2001. In The Future of

Development Economics in Perspective. Edited by J. Meir and J.E. Stiglitz. Oxford:

Oxford University Press and the Washington: the World Bank Press. Pp. 335-340.

"Analytic Narratives Revisited" (with Robert Bates, Margaret Levi, Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, and

Barry Weingast). Social Science History 24, 4 (winter 2000): 679-690.

"The Analytic Narrative Project," (with Robert Bates, Margaret Levi, Jean-Laurent Rosenthal,

and Barry Weingast) American Political Science Review, 2000, 94 (3): 696-702

“Social Capital, Formal Rules, and Institutional Analysis in the Study of Development.” 2000. In

Dimensions of Development. Published by the Yale Center for International and Area

Studies. New Haven, Connecticut.

“The Fundamental Problem of Exchange: A Research Agenda in Historical Institutional

Analysis.” European Review of Economic History, 4, 3 (December 2000): 251-284.

"Economic History and Game Theory." 2000. Handbook of Game Theory, vol. III. Edited by

Robert J. Aumann and Sergiu Hart. Amsterdam: North Holland.

“Self-Enforcing Political Systems and Economic Growth: Late Medieval Genoa.” Chapter 1 in

Analytic Narratives. The book is co-authored with Robert H. Bates, Margaret Levi, Jean-

Laurent Rosenthal, and Barry R. Weingast. 1998. Princeton University Press.

Reprinted in New Developments in Economic Sociology. Edited by Richard Swedberg.

2004. The International Library of Critical Writings in Economics. Cheltenham,

UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

“Historical and Comparative Institutional Analysis.” 1998. American Economic Review, (2,

May): 80-4.

Reprinted in Recent Developments in Institutional Economics. Edited by Dr. Geoffrey

Hodgson. 2002. UK: Edward Elgar

Reprinted in The International Library of the New Institutional Economics. Edited by

Claude Ménard. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. 2004.

“Informal Contract Enforcement Institutions: Lessons from Late Medieval Trade.” 1998. The

New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics and the Law. Edited by Peter Newman.

London: Macmillan Press.

"Historical Institutional Analysis: Game Theory and Non-market Self-enforcing Institutions

During the Late Medieval Period." 1998. Annales, (3, May-June). In French. Pp. 597-


"Cliometrics After Forty Years: Microtheory and Economic History." American Economic

Review, (May, 1997).

“Contracting, Enforcement, and Efficiency: Economics Beyond the Law." Annual World Bank

Conference on Development Economics. 1997. Edited by Michael Bruno and Boris

Pleskovic. Washington, D.C: The World Bank. Pp. 239-66.

Reprinted in The Political Economy of Development, edited by Amitava K. Dutt. 2001.

Glos. UK: Edward Elgar.

"Microtheory and Recent Developments in the Study of Economic Institutions Through

Economic History." 1997. Advances in Economic Theory. Edited by David M. Kreps and

Kenneth F. Wallis. Cambridge University Press. Vol. II. Pp. 79-113.

"On the Study of Organizations and Evolving Organizational Forms Through History: Reflection

from the Late Medieval Family Firm." Industrial and Corporate Change, 1996, Vol.


Reprinted in Firms, Markets, and Hierarchies. 1999. Edited by Glenn R. Carroll and

David J. Teece. New York: Oxford University Press.

"On the Inter-relations and Economic Implications of Economic, Social, Political, and Normative

Factors: Reflections From Two Late Medieval Societies." Frontiers of the New

Institutional Economics. Volume in honor of Douglass C. North. Edited by John N.

Drobak and John Nye. The Academic Press. 1996.

A Comment on the “Evolution of Economic Systems: the Case of Japan“ by Tetsuji Okazaki and

Masahiro Okuno-Fujiwara. 1997. In Y. Hayami and Masahiko Aoki (eds.). The

Institutional Foundation of Economic Development in East Asia. London: Macmillan.

"Political Organizations, Social Structure, and Institutional Success: Reflections From Genoa

and Venice During the Commercial Revolution." The Journal of Institutional and

Theoretical Economics. (December 1995).

"Contract Enforcement Institutions: Historical Perspective and Current Status in Russia." With

Eugene Kandel. In Edward P. Lazear (ed.). Economic Transition in Eastern Europe and

Russia: Realities of Reform. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press. 1995. Pp. 291-321.

"Coordination, Commitment and Enforcement: The Case of the Merchant Gild." With Paul

Milgrom and Barry Weingast. The Journal of Political Economy, vol. 102, No. 4 (August

1994). Pp. 745-776.

Reprinted in Explaining Social Institutions. Edited by Jack Knight and Itai Sened. Ann

Arbor: University fof Michigan Press. 1995.

Reprinted in Trust. 2002. Edited by Elias Khalil. In the series "Critical Studies in

Economic Institutions," Series editor: Geoffrey M. Hodgson, published by

Edward Elgar (UK).

Reprinted in The International Library of the New Institutional Economics. Edited by

Claude Ménard. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. 2004.

Reprinted in “Social Norms, Nonlegal Sanctions, and the Law. Edited by Eric A. Posner.

Edward Elgar (UK). 2006.

"Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on

Collectivist and Individualist Societies." The Journal of Political Economy, vol. 102, No.

5 (October 1994): pp. 912-50.

Reprinted in The New Institutionalism in Economic Sociology. Edited by Victor Nee and

Mary Brinton. New York: Russell Sage. 1998.

Reprinted in Culture, Social Norms and Economic Behavior. Edited by Mark Casson.

London: Edward Edgar. 1997.

Reprinted in The International Library of the New Institutional Economics. Edited by

Claude Ménard. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. 2004.

"On the Political Foundations of the Late Medieval Commercial Revolution: Genoa During the

Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries." The Journal of Economic History, Vol. 54, No. 4

(June 1994): 271-287.

"Trading Institutions and the Commercial Revolution in Medieval Europe." In Economics in a

Changing World. Vol. 1. (Proceedings of the Tenth World Congress of the International

Economic Association.) Edited by Abel Aganbegyan, Oleg Bogomolov, and Michael

Kaser. London: Macmillan. 1994.

"Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: The Maghribi Traders'

Coalition." American Economic Review, Vol. 83, No. 3 (June, 1993): 525-48.

Reprinted in Transaction Cost Economics. Edited by Oliver E. Williamson and Scott E.

Masten for the series The International Library of Critical Writing in Economics

edited by Mark Blaug. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. 1995.

Reprinted in The International Library of the New Institutional Economics. Edited by

Claude Ménard. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. 2004.

Reprinted in The New Institutional Economics of Markets. Edited by Rudolf Richter and

Eirik G. Furubotn. UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. 2009 (forthcoming)

"Cultural Beliefs as a Common Resource in an Integrating World: An Example from the Theory

and History of Collectivist and Individualist Societies." 1997. In P. Dasgupta, K-G

Mäler, and A. Vercelli (eds.). The Economics of Transnational Commons. Oxford:

Clarendon Press.

“Institutions and International Trade: Lessons from the Commercial Revolution." American

Economic Review, Vol. 82, No. 2 (May, 1992)

Reprinted in Readings in Political Economy. Forthcoming March 2002.

"Reputation and Coalitions in Medieval Trade: Evidence on the Maghribi Traders." Journal of

Economic History, Vol. XLIX, No. 4 (Dec. 1989): 857-882.

Reprinted in Reputation: Studies in the Voluntary Enforcement of Good Behavior.

Edited by Daniel Klein. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 1996.

Reprinted in The Legacy of Ludwig von Mises. Edited by Peter J. Boettke and Peter

Lesson. Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd. Cheltenham. UK. 2005.

Working Papers and Work in Progress:

“A Model of Cultural and Institutional Bifurcation.” 2010. (With Guido Tabellini.)

“A Theory of Moral Authority: Moral Choices Under Moral Network Externalities.” 2009.

“Institutions and Contract Enforcement Among the Maghribis: Refuting Edwards and Ogilivie.”

2008. SSRN working paper.

“Coercion and Exchange: How did Markets Evolve?” 2008. SSRN working paper. Prepared for

the Searle Center Research Symposium on Property Rights Economics and Innovation.

“The Normative Foundations of Institutions and Institutional Change.” 2008. Prepared for a

conference on 'The Dynamics of Institutions," Paris.

“Risk, Institutions and Growth: Why England and Not China?” (With Diego Sasson). 2008.

Why is Europe, Europe? 2007. (First draft of a book MS).

“Administration and Institutional Development: Rule of Law and Political Representation.” 2006.

(A basis for a book MS.)

“Self-enforcing Institutions: Comparative and Historical Institutional Analysis”. Prepared for

presentation in the European School on New Institutional Economics (ESNIE). 2004.

Bates, Robert H., Avner Greif, Macartan Humphreys, and Smita Singh. “Institutions and

Development”. A Paper Prepared for Presentation at the Plenary Session of the Bi-Annual

Meetings of the African Economic Research Consortium, Nairobi, May 2003.

“The Islamic Equilibrium: Legitimacy and Political, Social, and Economic Outcomes.” 2002.

“Faith and Oil: Fundamentalism, Democracy, and Development in the Islamic World.” 2001.

“Institutions and Gains from Exchange: Reflection from the Late Medieval Commercial

Revolution.” 2000. Presented at the Royal Economic Society/Scottish Economic Society


“Self-enforcing Political Systems, Organizational Innovations, and Economic Growth: Genoa

During the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries.” 1997.


Book Reviews:

Review of Eric L. Jones. “Cultures Merging: A Historical and Economic Critique of Culture.” NJ:

Princeton University Press, 2006. EH.Net.

“Housing the Stranger in the Mediterranean World. Lodging, Trade, and Travel in Late Antiquity

and the Middle Ages.” By Olivia Remie Constable. Cambridge: Cambridge University

Press. 2005. Eh.net

“Modeling the Middle Ages. The History and Theory of England’s Economic Development.” By

John Hatcher and Mark Bailey. Oxford University Press. 2003. Journal of Economic


“The Architecture of Markets: An Economic Sociology of the Twenty-First Century Capitalist

Societies.” By Neil Fligstein. 2003. Contemporary Sociology.

“Freedom and Growth. The Rise State and Markets in Europe, 1300-1700.” By S.R. Epstein.

2001. The Journal of Interdisciplinary History.

“Unintended Consequences. The Impact of Endowments, Culture, and Politics on Long-Run

Economic Performance.” By Deepak Lal.” 2000. Economica.

“Trade, Trust, and Networks. Commercial Culture in Late Medieval Italy.” By Gunnar Dahl.

Journal of Economic History. 1999.

"World Economic Primacy, 1500-1990." By Charles P. Kindleberger. Journal of Economic

Literature, 1997.

"Divergent Paths: How Culture and Institutions Have Shaped North American Growth." By Marc

Egnal. Journal of Economic History, 1997.

"Trust, Ethnicity, and Identity." By Janet Tai Landa. Canadian Journal of Economics, 1995.

"The Sovereign State and Its Competitors: An Analysis of Systems Change." By Hendrik Spruyt.

Journal of Economic History, 1995.

"Trade & Traders in Muslim Spain: The Commercial Realignment of the Iberian Peninsula 900-

1500" By Olivia Remie Constable. Journal of Economic History, 1995.

"Wage Labor & Guilds in Medieval Europe" By Steven A. Epstein. Journal of Economic

History, June, 1995.

"A Mediterranean Emporium, The Catalan Kingdom of Majorca" By David Abulafia. Journal of

Economic History, Vol. 55 (March 1995), no. 1.

"The Medieval Village Economy," by Robert M. Townsend. Journal of Economic Literature,

Vol. 32 (Dec. 1994), no. 4.

"Europe, America, and the Wider World, Vol. 2," by William N. Parker. Journal of

Interdisciplinary History, Vol. XXIV (winter 1994), no. 3.

"Before European Hegemony: The World System A.D. 1250 - 1350," by Janet L. Abu-Lughod.

Journal of Economic History, Vol. L (June 1990), no. 2.


Professional Activities and Affiliations:

  • Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the European Review of Economic History (2010 –)
  • Board of editors, Journal of Legal Analysis, (2008 –)
  • International Advisory Board of Journal of Institutional Economics (2003 –)
  • Editorial Board: The Journal of Economic Literature (2003-6)
  • The Journal of Economic History (1996-2000)
  • The Economic Journal (1996 - 2000).
  • European Review of Economic History (2001 – )
  • Co-editor: “Comparative Institutional Analysis” series for MIT press (1997 –)
  • The University of Michigan Press series "Economics, Cognition, and Society" (1995 –)

Professional Affiliation:

  • American Economic Association
  • Economic History Association
  • American Economic Association
  • The Cliometric Society
  • The Economic History Society
  • The Econometric Society

Referee For:

  • American Economic Review
  • American Political Science Review
  • American Journal of sociology
  • The Economic Journal
  • Economic History Review
  • International Economic Review
  • International Review of Law & Economics
  • Journal of Economic History
  • Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics
  • Journal of Law and Economics
  • Journal of Law, Economics and Organization
  • Journal of Development Economics
  • Journal of Legal Studies
  • Journal of Political Economy
  • Journal of Public Economics
  • Journal of Money, Credit, and Banking
  • Review of Economic Studies