Institutions, Organizations
& Growth

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About this program

Why are some countries rich and others poor?

Throughout history economies around the world have developed with varying degrees of success. How well they perform over time is influenced by systems of governance, such as the political institutions, laws and even cultural norms that guide the exchange of wealth and power in society. The relations run both ways: as countries develop, this also brings about change in their institutions.

CIFAR’s program on Institutions, Organizations & Growth aims to move beyond the limits of traditional economic approaches and provide new frameworks for understanding why some nations succeed economically while others continually fail; why institutions that foster wealth and well-being in one culture, location, or historical period may be less effective in another; and what policies will create the greatest potential for progress.

Program at a glance

IOG - Court House
Founded in
2004
Members
24
Renewal Dates
2008, 2014
Supporters
  • BMO Financial Group
  • Jon and Laura Hantho
  • (1 Anonymous Donor)
Disciplines
Economics; political science; economic and political history; social psychology; anthropology

Program details

Since the launch in 2004, fellows in the program have been at the forefront of integrating the role of political institutions and the ways in which society is organized into a framework for understanding prospects for economic growth and development. Today, they continue to break new ground by  cultivating insights from across a broad range of disciplines into a fully integrated social science with a unique lens on social order.

By tackling the role that social order plays in shaping the economic well-being of a nation, IOG researchers aim to shed light on how to best address some of the toughest issues facing the world today, from poverty and inequality to instability and violence.  Members draw on a broad range of methods and approaches, including theoretical modeling, statistical analysis of large data sets, experimental methods (in laboratory and field), and archival analysis of original historical data. Bringing complementary approaches to bear on the same research question is creating knowledge greater than the sum of its parts.

In Why Nations Fail, Senior Fellow Daron Acemoglu explores the role political and economic institutions, which can be heavily influenced by critical historical junctures like the plague. Illustration, The Triumph of Death by Brueghel the Elder
In Why Nations Fail, Senior Fellow Daron Acemoglu explores the role political and economic institutions, which can be heavily influenced by critical historical junctures like the plague. (Illustration, The Triumph of Death by Brueghel the Elder)

With momentous political, social and economic shifts transforming nations around the world, real understanding of development success and failure has never been more urgent or more possible. Research produced by members contributes significantly to a new understanding that institutions are not static entities, but dynamic forces with the power to affect citizens, communities and global development and be shaped by them in turn. The work can prospectively help poor nations grow out of poverty and provide insights that will guide international institutions, like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, to function in a better way. Members are regularly sought after for advice by world leaders, in Europe, Asia, and North America. Their work is affecting national and international policy on a variety of issues, from improving economic development and foreign aid, to managing political corruption and violent conflicts.


Over its first 10 years, this program has been at the forefront of linking the political and social structures of a country to its economic prospects and demonstrating that there is no one solution for all, that each country’s economy responds differently to institutional and organization structures because of its unique historical context. Program members explore formal rules that characterize institutions as well as informal rules, and how actual modes of behaviour respond to these rules. This is because institutions shape individual incentives not only through formal and legal provisions, but also through informal norms, habits and expectations.  For example, the different approaches to the role of the state in the United States and Europe is deeply rooted in social order that has evolved over centuries and explains why policies such as Scandinavian style redistributive intervention, or a nationalized health‐care system, are unacceptable to many in the United States.

CONTACT THE PROGRAM’S SENIOR DIRECTOR, KATE GEDDIE

SELECTED BOOKS & PAPERS

Daron Acemoglu and Jim Robinson, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty, Crown Business, 2012. Summary

Philippe Aghion and Peter Howitt, The Economics of Growth, MIT Press, 2008. Summary

George Akerlof and Rachel Kranton, Identity Economics, Princeton University Press, 2010. Summary

Siwan Anderson and Debraj Ray, “Missing Women: Age and Disease,” Review of Economic Studies 77, 1262–1300, 2010. Abstract

Roland Bénabou and Jean Tirole, “Incentives and Prosocial Behavior.” American Economic Review 96, 1652-1678, 2006. Abstract

Tim Besley and Torsten Persson, Pillars of Prosperity: The Political Economics of Development Clusters, Princeton University Press, 2011. Summary

Avner Greif, Institutions and the Path to the Modern Economy: Lessons from Medieval Trade, Cambridge University Press, 2006. Summary

Elhanan Helpman, editor, Institutions and Economic Performance, Harvard University Press, 2008. Summary

Matt Jackson, Social and Economic Networks, Princeton University Press, 2008. Summary

Guido Tabellini, “Culture and Institutions: Economic Development in the Regions of Europe”, Journal of the European Economic Association 8, 677-716, 2010. Abstract

Program fellows & advisors

Program Co-Directors

IOG_TorstenPersson
Torsten Persson
Program Co-Director

Torsten Persson’s research focuses on the politics of economic policymaking.

IOG_FrancescoTrebbi
Francessco Trebbi
Program Co-Director

Francesco Trebbi’s research focuses on political economy and macroeconomics, with an emphasis on monetary and fiscal policy.

Fellows

IOG_AvnerGreif

Avner Greif

  • Senior Fellow
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • United States
IOG_DanielDiermeier

Daniel Diermeier

  • Senior Fellow
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • University of Chicago
  • United States
IOG_DanielTrefler

Daniel Trefler

  • Senior Fellow
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • University of Toronto
  • Canada
IOG_DaronAcemoglu

Daron Acemoglu

  • Senior Fellow
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • United States
IOG_GeorgeAkerlof

George Akerlof

  • Senior Fellow
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • McCourt School of Public Policy
  • Georgetown University
  • United States
IOG_GuidoTabellini

Guido Tabellini

  • Senior Fellow
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • Bocconi University
  • Italy
IOG_JamesFearon

James Fearon

  • Senior Fellow
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • United States
IOG_JosephHenrich

Joseph Henrich

  • Senior Fellow
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • Harvard University
  • United States
Bio Outline

Kim Hill

  • Senior Fellow
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • United States
IOG_MaritRehavi

M. Marit Rehavi

  • Fellow
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • University of British Columbia
  • Canada
IOG_MatildeBombardini

Matilde Bombardini

  • Fellow
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • University of British Columbia
  • Canada
IOG_MatthewJackson

Matthew Jackson

  • Senior Fellow
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • United States
IOG_MauricioDrelichman

Mauricio Drelichman

  • Fellow
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • University of British Columbia
  • Canada
Bio Outline

Melissa Dell

  • Associate Fellow
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • Harvard University
  • National Bureau of Economic Research
  • United States
IOG_PatrickFrancois

Patrick Francois

  • Senior Fellow
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • University of British Columbia
  • Canada
IOG_PhilippeAghion

Philippe Aghion

  • Senior Fellow
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • Collège de France
  • France
IOG_RolandBenabou

Roland Bénabou

  • Senior Fellow
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • Princeton University
  • United States
Bio Outline

Ruixue Jia

  • Associate Fellow
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • University of California San Diego
  • United States
IOG-Anderson_Siwan

Siwan Anderson

  • Associate Fellow
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • University of British Columbia
  • Canada
Bio Outline

Thomas Fujiwara

  • Associate Fellow
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • Princeton University
  • United States
IOG_TImothyBesley

Timothy Besley

  • Fellow
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • London School of Economics and Political Science
  • United Kingdom

Advisors

IOG_JoelMokyr

Joel Mokyr

  • Advisory Committee Chair
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • Northwestern University
  • United States
IOG_KenShepsle

Kenneth Shepsle

  • Advisor
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • Harvard University
  • United States
IOG_RobertBoyd

Robert Boyd

  • Advisor
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • Arizona State University
  • United States
IOG_RogerMyerson

Roger B. Myerson

  • Advisor
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • University of Chicago
  • United States

CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars

IOG_NatalieBau

Natalie Bau

  • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • University of Toronto
  • Canada
IOG_RaulSanchezdelaSierra

Raul Sanchez de la Sierra

  • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • University of California Berkeley
  • United States
IOG_SaraLowes

Sara Lowes

  • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar
  • Institutions, Organizations & Growth
  • Bocconi University
  • Italy