Javier Mejia Cubillos: “Social Interactions and Contract Enforcement in the Postcolonial Arab World; Evidence from the Industrial Elite of Morocco, 1956-1982”

Lecture | January 28 | 12:30-2 p.m. | 340 Stephens Hall

 Center for Middle Eastern Studies

This paper studies the role of social interactions in the business-elite activity of the postcolonial Arab world. We use mixed methods to exploit an exceptional set of interviews with members of the industrial elite of Morocco during the import-substituting-industrialization period. We find that the high risk of contractual breach characterized the business environment. In this context, business people were aware of the value of social ties. They did not use these ties to promote collective-punishment. Instead, they used ties to solve disputes through bilateral methods that did not threaten their existing connections. In addition, they used their network to screen the quality of potential business partners. This was strongly supported by the small size of the business community. Other enforcement mechanisms, such as legal methods, were seldom used, as they threaten valuable personal ties. In contrast to what the literature suggests, we find that business and social connections were more effective than connections with the State or with kin-based and ethno-geographic groups.

Javier Mejia Cubillos is a Postdoctoral Associate at the Social Science division at New York University--Abu Dhabi. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from Los Andes University. He has been a Visiting Student Researcher at Stanford University and a Visiting Scholar at the University of Bordeaux. His work focuses on the intersection between social networks and economic history in Latin America and the Middle East.

 CA, dkhanaka@berkeley.edu, 5106434349