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Shelby Grossman

Aug 4, 2021

The Politics of Order in Informal Markets

How the State Shapes Private Governance

Cambridge University Press 2021

Property rights are important for economic exchange, but many governments don't protect them. Private market organizations can fill this gap by providing an institutional structure to enforce agreements, but with this power comes the ability to extort group members. Under what circumstances, then, will private organizations provide a stable environment for economic activity? Based on market case studies and a representative survey of traders in Lagos, Nigeria, this book argues that threats from the government can force an association to behave in ways that promote trade. The findings challenge the conventional wisdom that private good governance in developing countries thrives when the government keeps its hands off private group affairs. Instead, the author argues, leaders among traders behave in ways that promote trade primarily because of the threat of government intrusion.

Shelby Grossman is a research scholar at the Stanford Internet Observatory. Dr. Grossman's primary research interests are in comparative politics and sub-Saharan Africa. She was previously an assistant professor of political science at the University of Memphis and a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. Dr. Grossman earned her PhD in Government from Harvard University in 2016.

Host Peter Lorentzen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of San Francisco, where he leads a new digital economy-focused Master's program in Applied Economics. His primary research interest is in the political economy of governance and development, particularly in China.

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Peter Lorentzen

Peter Lorentzen is economics professor at the University of San Francisco. He heads USF's Applied Economics Master's program, which focuses on the digital economy. His research is mainly on China's political economy.

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