The Douglass North Best Book Award
The Douglass C. North Research Award, given for the best book in institutional and organizational economics published in the previous two years, goes to "Rulers, Religion, and Riches: Why the West Got Rich and the Middle East Did Not," by Jared Rubin.
This outstanding monograph addresses one of the core questions in institutional economics: why are some countries rich and others poor? The answer, writes Rubin, has much to do with the relationship between religious and political authorities. Political leaders rely upon “propagating agents” to remain in power. Among these are religious authorities, who provide legitimacy to rulers—but at a price. Both Christian and Islamic texts contain ideas that are inimical to modern economic development. Historical legacies imply that these ideas formed the basis of exchange between rulers and clerics to a greater degree in the Middle East than in the West. This tendency only increased after the invention of the printing press, which served to further undermine religious legitimacy in Reformation Europe, even as the press was banned in the Ottoman Empire. The consequence was a widening gap in economic development that persists to this day.
Tightly argued and beautifully written, "Rulers, Religion, and Riches" is an outstanding exemplar of the work inspired by Douglass North and a worthy recipient of the award that bears his name.
The Ronald H. Coase Dissertation Award
The Ronald H. Coase Best Dissertation Award is handed out annualy for the best doctoral dissertation in institutional and organizational economics. During SIOE's recent conference in Montreal (June 21-23), Nicholas Barnes was awarded the award for his dissertation “Monopolies of Violence: Gang Governance in Rio de Janeiro."
This work aims to understand different governing institutions implemented by various drug trafficking gangs in Rio de Janeiro to regulate their relationships with favela communities. Nick conducted three years of multi-method fieldwork in Rio de Janeiro. He lived for 18 months in Complexo da Maré, an area in which three gang organizations vie for territorial control, carrying out participant observation activities, archival research, and conducting 175 semi-structured interviews. He supplemented these qualitative methods with a dataset of geo-located anonymous hotline denunciations of local gangs by residents.
The Coase Dissertation Award Committee provided the following compliments on Nick's dissertation: "What a great book on criminal gangs he has put together! In this context, the thesis deals with determinants and consequences of the competition between states and non-states actors. The thesis is enormously impressive — from the sheer quantity of work involved including extensive field work to the integrated treatment of many aspects of the gangs (including heterogeneity across gangs). The topic is important: these gangs will be in the favelas for quite some time to come."
Nick got his PhD in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2017 and is working as Postdoctoral Fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.
The Oliver Williamson Best Conference Paper Award
At the SIOE 2018 conference in Montreal, the Oliver Williamson Best Conference Paper Award for the best paper delivered at the conference was awarded to "Vertical Integration, Supplier Behavior, and Quality Upgrading Among Exporters," by Christopher Hansman (Imperial College London), Jonas Hjort (Columbia University), Gianmarco Leon (Universitat Pompeu Fabra), and Matthieu Teachout (Columbia University).
The 2018 Program Executive Committee preselected a shortlist of papers to be presented at the conference, based on the evaluations and their own assessments of the importance and quality of the submitted papers. Then the entire Program Committee voted on the candidate papers on that shortlist (excluding contributions co-authored by program committee members). The award was accepted by Jonas Hjort.
The winning paper's abstract is:
We study the relationship between exporters' organizational structure and output quality. If only input quantity is easily observable, theory predicts that vertical integration may be necessary to incentivize suppliers to take input quality-increasing actions. Using direct measures, from the Peruvian fishmeal manufacturing industry, of (i) suppliers' behavior, (ii) suppliers' ownership, (iii) all within- and across-firm supply transactions, (iv) manufacturers' output by quality grade, and (v) all export transactions, we show the following. After integrating with the plant being supplied (before and after integration) and losing access to alternative pay-per-kilo buyers, suppliers take more quality-increasing and less quantity-increasing actions (and vice versa for de-integrations). Integration consequently causally increases output quality, as we show using exogenous variation in firms' access to suppliers they currently own relative to independent suppliers. Finally, we demonstrate that meeting the demand for high quality output is one of firms' motivations for integrating suppliers, while meeting low quality demand is not. We do so both by interacting (instrumented) changes in the relative price of high quality grades with firms' prior location on the quality ladder, and by interacting changes in relative demand from destinations that import high quality grades with firms' prior export destinations.