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ICA

Our team focuses on the emergence, functioning and management of institutions for collective action, which are institutions that are built and managed by the stakeholders themselves in order to tackle certain problems. Our main interest goes to explaining what is needed to create (very) long-enduring CPRs, of which we find many in European history, such as commons, craft guilds, beguinages, waterboards, co-operatives, mutuals, friendly societies etc. Many of these organisations managed to survive for literally centuries, despite wars, political and economic crises, often much more severe than we experience today. In order to unravel the secret of what makes an institutions durable for such long periods, we combine theories developed by social science research with long-term historical data analysis that such collective action institutions have left behind (like bodies of regulations on the use of commons, their book keeping, member registers etc). Besides, we also look at the deeper causes of why some regions were more prone to develop institutions for collective action than others, and whether their presence may have had a positive effect on economic development, either directly through achieving a higher level of efficiency than markets or government solutions or via other side-effects such as their contribution to human capital formation (e.g. in the case of the guilds). With our interdisciplinary team of historians, demographers, biologists and economists, we also look at the current developments in Europe, with many citizens forming new institutions for collective action, often in the form of a cooperative,
to produce energy, infrastructure or offer services such as care, in order to find a solution for the failure of privatisation and the demise of the welfare state.

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