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Institutions of Hanseatic Trade

Studies on the Political Economy of a Medieval Network Organisation

by Ulf Christian Ewert (Author) Stephan Selzer (Author)
Monographs 196 Pages
Open Access

Summary

The merchants of the medieval Hanse monopolised trade in the Baltic and North Sea areas. The authors describe the structure of their trade system in terms of network organisation and attempts to explain, on the grounds of institutional economics, the coordination of the merchants’ commercial exchange by reputation, trust and culture. The institutional economics approach also allows for a comprehensive analysis of coordination problems arising between merchants, towns and the ‘Kontore’. Due to the simplicity and flexibility of network trade the Hansards could bridge the huge gap in economic development between the West and the East. In the changing economic conditions around 1500, however, exactly these characteristics proved to be a serious limit to further retain their trade monopoly.

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the authors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Foreword
  • Chapter 1 Hanse History and Economics – a New Institutional Economics Perspective on Hanseatic Trade
  • Points of Departure
  • Hanse Research, the Economy and Economics
  • New Institutional Economics and the Hanse – a Challenge
  • Chapter 2 Reputation, Trust and Culture – the Network Structure of Hanseatic Trade and its Benefits
  • Hanseatic Trade and its Historiographical Evaluation
  • The Network Structure of Hanseatic Trade
  • Forms of Commercial Exchange and Cooperation
  • Firm size and Network Organisation
  • Overlapping Circles of Family and Business
  • Coordination of the Network Trade System
  • The Problem of Coordination
  • The Agency Problem
  • A Game-theoretical Analysis of Medieval Commercial Exchange
  • The Viability of Hanseatic Reciprocal Trade
  • Non-hierarchical Means of Coordination
  • An Economic Assessment of the Hanse’s Network Organisation of Trade
  • Individual Economic Benefits
  • Cost Savings
  • The Minimisation of Contractual Risks
  • Concluding Remarks
  • Chapter 3 A ‘Small World’ – Reconstruction and Meaning of the Hansards’ Social Networks
  • Network Analysis as a Method to Describe Social Structure
  • The Theoretical Concept of Social Networks
  • A Brief Sketch of the Methodology of Social Network Analysis
  • Social Networks within the Hanse – Examples and Corresponding Sources
  • Conditions of the Emerging Networks – Population Growth and Migration
  • Kinship Networks among Hansards
  • Wills as a Source of Network Reconstruction – the Case of Lübeck
  • Social Proximity vs. Spatial Vicinity – Societies and Neighbourhoods
  • Social Networks of Hansards as a ‘Small World’
  • Chapter 4 Bridging Distances and Filling Gaps – Strategies to Handle Heterogeneous Commercial Environments
  • Extension of European Trade to the Baltic Sea – Merchants and Cities
  • Unequal Hanseatic Commercial Settings – Sources of Heterogeneity
  • The Dissimilarity of Mercantile Environments
  • Handling a Variety of Goods
  • Bridging and Filling the Gap – Strategies to Balance the Effects of Heterogeneity
  • Hedging Against the Risks of Transportation
  • Creating Formal Institutions
  • Networking and Reciprocal Trade
  • Standardisation and Homogenisation of Commercial Institutions and Culture
  • Success and Failure of Hanseatic Strategies to Cope with Heterogeneity
  • Chapter 5 State of Cities, Commercial Trust, or Virtual Organisation? – Structure and Coordination of the Hanse
  • The Paradoxical Outward Appearance of the Hanse
  • Structure of the Hanse
  • A Theoretical Concept – the Network Approach and Virtual Organisations
  • The Hanse’s Network Trade and its Virtual Character
  • The Organisational Multiplexity of the Hanse
  • Problems of Coordination and Institutions to Enhance Cooperation
  • The First-order Problem of Coordination
  • The Second-order Problem of Coordination
  • Determinants of Fruitful Cooperation and of Cooperation Failure
  • Chapter 6 Competitive Advantage or Limit to Business? – Contingency and Path Dependence
  • The Context of the Hanseatic Network Organisation
  • Economic Effects of the Hanseatic Network Organisation
  • Effectiveness and Profitability of Hanseatic Trade
  • Economic Growth and Collective Welfare
  • Distribution of Income and Wealth in the Hanse towns
  • The Scope of Hanseatic Trade
  • The Development of the Hanse’s Network Organisation and Path Dependence
  • Network Size, Cultural Borders and the Network Paradox
  • Adaptations Missed Because of the Success of the Network Organisation
  • The Multiplicity of Structure, and a Mismatch of Structure and Coordination
  • The Change of Economic Conditions
  • Chapter 7 Perspectives of Research into Hanseatic Trade – the Impact of the Model of Network Organisation
  • A Short Look Back
  • Methodological Advances and Newly Published Sources
  • Network Organisation as a Formative Pattern of Pre-modern Trade
  • The Hanse as a Political Organisation
  • The Structural Change around the Year 1500
  • Insights Relevant to Historical Economics of Trade
  • Bibliography

Ulf Christian Ewert / Stephan Selzer

Institutions of Hanseatic Trade

Studies on the Political Economy of a Medieval Network Organisation

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About the authors

Ulf Christian Ewert is Research Associate at the Cluster of Excellence ‘Religion and Politics’ and lecturer in economic history at the University of Münster. He has taught medieval and economic history at Chemnitz University of Technology, Helmut-Schmidt-University Hamburg, Free University of Berlin and the universities of Munich, Halle and Regensburg. He published numerous articles on the Hanse, the Portuguese overseas expansion, the political economy of pre-modern princely courts and on early-modern living standards.

Stephan Selzer is Professor for medieval history at Helmut-Schmidt-University / University of the Federal Armed Forces Hamburg. He is the author of numerous publications on the social and economic history of the later Middle Ages as well as specialist literature on the medieval Hanseatic League and on communication and mobility in the Hanse area.

About the book

The merchants of the medieval Hanse monopolised trade in the Baltic and North Sea areas. The authors describe the structure of this trade system in terms of network organisation and explain, on the grounds of institutional economics, the coordination of the merchants’ commercial exchange by reputation, trust and culture. The institutional economics approach also allows for a comprehensive analysis of coordination problems arising between merchants, towns and the ‘Kontore’. Due to the simplicity and flexibility of network trade the Hansards could bridge the huge gap in economic development between the West and the East. In the changing economic conditions around 1500, however, exactly these characteristics proved to be a serious limit to further retain their trade monopoly.

This eBook can be cited

This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.

Details

Pages
196
ISBN (ePUB)
9783631697528
ISBN (PDF)
9783653058512
ISBN (MOBI)
9783631697535
ISBN (Hardcover)
9783631661833
Open Access
CC-BY-NC-ND
Language
English
Publication date
2016 (December)
Published
Frankfurt am Main, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2016. 196 pp., 10 ill., 2 tables

Biographical notes

Ulf Christian Ewert (Author) Stephan Selzer (Author)

Ulf Christian Ewert is a Research Associate at the Cluster of Excellence ‘Religion and Politics’ and lecturer in economic history at the University of Münster. He has taught medieval and economic history at Chemnitz University of Technology, Helmut-Schmidt-University Hamburg, Free University of Berlin and the universities of Munich, Halle and Regensburg. He published numerous articles on the Hanse, the Portuguese overseas expansion, the political economy of pre-modern princely courts and on early-modern living standards. Stephan Selzer is Professor for medieval history at Helmut-Schmidt-University / University of the Federal Armed Forces Hamburg. He is the author of numerous publications on the social and economic history of the later Middle Ages as well as specialist literature on the medieval Hanseatic League and the communication and mobility of the Hanse area.

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