John Wallis
University of Maryland



(Wednesday, 20th May 2015)

Title : Governments, Rules, and Organizations

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I will talk about how societies coordinate through rules. Governments are usually defined as organizations with a comparative advantage in violence (North, 1981). Government rules are critical because they can be coercively enforced. But we know that in many societies governments do not possess a comparative in violence. How do we think about governments then? I present an alternative concept of government: government as the organization that publicly signifies agreements. Governments are organizations that coordinate, rather than coerce. Rules then are based on the value of coordination, not the threat of coercion.