The Paradox of Legal Harmonization

43 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2005

See all articles by Emanuela Carbonara

Emanuela Carbonara

University of Bologna - Department of Economics

Francesco Parisi

University of Minnesota - Law School; University of Bologna


The legal landscape is changing, adapting to the global market. Differences between legal systems hinder transnational commerce. Countries reduce legal differences through non-cooperative and cooperative adaptation processes that alternatively lead to legal transplantation or harmonization. Switching costs render unification difficult. Cooperation reduces differences to a greater extent but rarely leads to legal unification. In this paper we unveil a paradox of legal harmonization. When switching costs are endogenous, countries engaging in cooperative harmonization may end up with less harmonization than those pursuing non-cooperative strategies.

Keywords: legal harmonization, legal transplantation, transnational contracts, legal change

JEL Classification: K10, K33, D70

Suggested Citation

Carbonara, Emanuela and Parisi, Francesco, The Paradox of Legal Harmonization. Public Choice, 2007, George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 05-40, Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-14, Available at SSRN:

Emanuela Carbonara

University of Bologna - Department of Economics ( email )

Piazza Scaravilli 2
Bologna, 40126
+39 051 2098149 (Phone)
+39 051 2098040 (Fax)

Francesco Parisi (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Law School ( email )

229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

University of Bologna ( email )

Piazza Scaravilli 1
40126 Bologna, fc 47100

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