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An Introduction to Destructive Coordination

Mehrdad Vahabi

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Abstract: Polanyi (1944, [1957] 1968) has distinguished three 'patterns of social integration,' namely 'reciprocity', 'redistribution' and 'exchange.' This triad has provided the starting point for most subsequent discussion. Our purpose is to introduce a further type of coordination, the 'destructive mode of coordination'. This mode achieves coordination by intimidation, threat, and the use of non-institutionalized coercive means. Resources and human efforts are allocated in order to appropriate what other people produce. Two simple examples provide an introductory illustration, traffic circles (roundabouts) and prisons. Appropriation through pirating provides a further example of destructive coordination. More specifically, biopiracy (blood patenting) is discussed in order to clarify the relationship between destructive coordination and the institutionalization of property rights. Finally, we focus on the role of destructive coordination as a transitional mechanism that is supported by the institutional vacuum ultimately yielding to other modes of coordination.

Keywords: mode of coordination; destructive coordination; institutional vacuum; biopiracy; indeterminate property rights (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2009
Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: http://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00629124
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Published, American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 2009, 68, 2, 353-386

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