Benito Arruñada - Universitat Pompeu Fabra
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Online discussion of my book on property rights
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The Role of Institutions in the Contractual Process

Arruñada, Benito (2001), “The Role of Institutions in the Contractual Process,” in B. Deffains and T. Kirat, eds., Law and Economics in Civil Law Countries, The Economics of Legal Relationships Series, JAI Press, Stamford, CT, 177-196.
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Human beings increase their productivity by specializing their resources and exchanging their products. The organization of exchange is costly, however, because specialized activities need coordination and incentives have to be aligned. This work first describes how these exchanges are organized in an institutional environment. It then focuses on the dual effect of this environment- as with any other specialized resource, institutions may be used for expropriation purposes. They enjoy specialization advantages in safeguarding exchange but they also make possible new forms of opportunism, causing new costs of exchange. Three perverse tendencies are identified:In the legal field, there is a surplus of mandatory rules and, at the same time, a deficit in default rules. Second, courts’ activity is biased against the quasi-judicial role of the parties and the market. Third, Market enforcement is based on reputational assets that are badly exposed to opportunism.