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The legacy of the Nigerian-Fijian Empire| Societal Trust research colloquium | with prof. Robbert Maseland (Nijmegen)

When:We 08-11-2023 15:15 - 17:00
Where:Faculty of Philosophy, room Omega,

The legacy of the Nigerian-Fijian Empire—the institutional impact of horizontal colonial ties in the late British Empire

A broad literature in economics emphasizes that cooperation and exchange—being drivers of economic prosperity—rely on societal trust, fostered by institutions of good governance. Strong differences in the quality of good governance exist between societies. This raises the questions where this divergence comes from and how societies may learn and adopt institutions from each other. 

Existing literature on institutional development has juxtaposed models focused on internal path-dependence with arguments about 'vertically’ introduced exogenous change—influences from rich, Western countries on developing economies. Some authors have linked the two, emphasizing that local reception of vertical legal transplants depends on their fit with the pre-existing cultural-institutional context in the recipient society. 

What these arguments have in common is that they ignore the possibility of developing societies to play an active role in the dissemination of institutions, norms and cognitions within the global economy. In this thinking, all change comes from Europe, and developing societies will, depending on their own cultural background, either resist or adopt.

In contrast, prof Maseland studies the origins of institutional differences between colonies, emphasizing the impact of horizontal—inter-colony—ties on subsequent legal-institutional development. Exploiting a new biographical data of over 14,000 British and local colonial officials in 56 colonies, he proxies horizontal diffusion of legal-institutional knowledge within the British Empire by tracing the transfer patterns of colonial officials between colonies.

Analysis of the sequence of placements confirms that the observed effects are not driven by underlying shared characteristics of colonies, driving both officer placement and institutional development, but is caused by officer transfers.

He concludes that for a full understanding of institutional divergence, the focus in the literature on European influences on the one hand and internal dynamics on the other needs to be complemented by attention for horizontal ties.

Please get in touch with the host, Leah Henderson ( l.henderson ) if you want to join for drinks and/or dinner afterwards. 

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Prof. dr. Robbert Maseland

Prof. dr. Robbert Maseland

In his research, Prof. Dr. R.K.J. Maseland (Robbert), the focus revolves around explaining the pivotal role of culture and institutions in economic development.

It involves a thorough analysis of the globalization process through the assessment of multinational corporations' decisions regarding internationalization in light of cultural and institutional disparities.

These research interests are driven by the ambition to uncover the fundamental causes of economic development and a keen curiosity about the impact of cultural and institutional diversity on cooperation and exchange.

This is achieved by combining insights from the literature on institutional perspectives in development with the body of work in international business literature that explores managerial responses to cultural and institutional variations.

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