The Institutional Revolution: Measurement and the Economic Emergence of the Modern World

Hardcover | December 1, 2011

byDouglas W. Allen

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Few events in the history of humanity rival the Industrial Revolution. Following its onset in eighteenth-century Britain, sweeping changes in agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, and technology began to gain unstoppable momentum throughout Europe, North America, and eventually much of the world—with profound effects on socioeconomic and cultural conditions.

In The Institutional Revolution, Douglas W. Allen offers a thought-provoking account of another, quieter revolution that took place at the end of the eighteenth century and allowed for the full exploitation of the many new technological innovations. Fundamental to this shift were dramatic changes in institutions, or the rules that govern society, which reflected significant improvements in the ability to measure performance—whether of government officials, laborers, or naval officers—thereby reducing the role of nature and the hazards of variance in daily affairs. Along the way, Allen provides readers with a fascinating explanation of the critical roles played by seemingly bizarre institutions, from dueling to the purchase of one’s rank in the British Army.
 
Engagingly written, The Institutional Revolution traces the dramatic shift from premodern institutions based on patronage, purchase, and personal ties toward modern institutions based on standardization, merit, and wage labor—a shift which was crucial to the explosive economic growth of the Industrial Revolution.

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Few events in the history of humanity rival the Industrial Revolution. Following its onset in eighteenth-century Britain, sweeping changes in agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, and technology began to gain unstoppable momentum throughout Europe, North America, and eventually much of the world—with profound effects on socioecon...

  Douglas W. Allen is the Burnaby Mountain Professor of Economics at Simon Fraser University in Canada. He is the author of numerous books, including The Nature of the Farm: Contracts, Risk, and Organization in Agriculture.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:December 1, 2011Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226014746

ISBN - 13:9780226014746

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Table of Contents

Preface

Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2.Variance Everywhere
Chapter 3. The Aristocrats
Chapter 4. A Matter of Honor
Chapter 5. The Royal Navy
Chapter 6. Purchasing Army Commissions
Chapter 7. Lighthouses, Private Roads, and the Treasury
Chapter 8. The Courts, Criminal Law, and Police
Chapter 9. Conclusion

Index

Editorial Reviews

“In the early modern period, British aristocrats engaged in a panoply of seemingly inefficient activities. They owned grandiose, high-maintenance estates. . . . They refused to engage directly in any commercial activity and spent their hours cultivating demanding but seemingly useless skills like, music, dancing, repartee, and Latin conjugations. Yet, despite these apparently wealth-destroying behaviors, aristocrats grew wealthy, often astoundingly wealthy. As Allen asks in his marvelous book, ‘what economic puzzle were they solving in order to generate this wealth?’ . . . A milestone in the New Institutional Economics."