Informal Institutions

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  • A society's code of conduct or values that affect individual behavior. Informal institutions differ from formal ones, which are official rules of society, for example, constitutions and legal codes. The terms informal and formal institutions were coined by the institutional theorist economist Douglass C. North in his book Institutions, Institutional Change, and Economic Performance (1990), where he defined institutions as “the rules of the game in society” (p. 3). North's work analyzes the impact of political, economic, and social forces on institutions. North argued that informal institutions are as important as formal ones in determining the costs of doing business in an economy and the likelihood for economic partnerships to develop. For example, the laws affecting commerce would be a mechanism of the formal institutions, ...

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