The Role of Informal Institutions in Building the Institutional Framework of an African State: The Case of the Kanuri in Nigeria

20 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2017 Last revised: 4 Dec 2019

See all articles by Valentin Seidler

Valentin Seidler

Vienna University of Economics and Business - Department of Economics

Date Written: March 1, 2011

Abstract

Most institutional economists agree that Africa’s overall poor economic performance is connected with its weak institutions. Among others, institutional research has highlighted the importance of cultural norms and the colonial past. In this context, colonialism presents a “natural experiment” – a phase in which European institutions were imposed on local and predominantly informal institutions. While the persistence of informal institutions have been highlighted among others by Douglass North and Oliver Williamson, case studies investigating their influence on institutional development are rare. This article aims to contribute to filling this gap. It focuses on the institutional development of the Kanuri, a larger ethnic group in north-eastern Nigeria. It uses a theoretical framework of institutional hierarchy to examine the development of key institutions throughout the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial period of the Kanuri. The article argues that informal Kanuri institutions have prevailed throughout colonial times and still present powerful norms today. Wherever Kanuri pre-colonial institutions conflict with modern, formal institutions of the Nigerian federal state, they set adverse incentives for economic behavior. Furthermore, the article’s findings shed light on the hitherto neglected role of informal institutions in the institutional development of former African colonies.

Keywords: Africa, institutions, development

JEL Classification: N47, O43, B52

Suggested Citation

Seidler, Valentin, The Role of Informal Institutions in Building the Institutional Framework of an African State: The Case of the Kanuri in Nigeria (March 1, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3050608 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3050608

Valentin Seidler (Contact Author)

Vienna University of Economics and Business - Department of Economics ( email )

Welthandelsplatz 1
D4
A-1020 Wien
Austria

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.wu.ac.at/vw1/m/dr-valentin-seidler-ba

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