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The role of formal norms from an institutionalist perspective: the case of private enterprise regulation in Portugal (1790-1919)

Luis Aguiar Santos

No 2019/66, Working Papers GHES - Office of Economic and Social History from ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, GHES - Social and Economic History Research Unit, Universidade de Lisboa

Abstract: Regulation, considered in the context of economic phenomena, has been treated by economists and jurists in a chronological context that, at best, recedes into the early twentieth century. This short time span of the study of regulation is due, on the one hand, to the fact that it is understood by many as a historically recent phenomenon and, on the other, to the difficulty that a clear, operational concept of regulation has been used. The starting point of this paper is that the focus on formal and state-sanctioned normativity is fundamental to empirically clarify the scope of the study of the regulation of economic activities over historical time, since institutions (including economic ones) have indisputably also a normative nature. This problem is introduced here with a case study which purports to have more general relevance. This paper is based on a comprehensive and exhaustive empirical research of all the formal economic norms published by the Portuguese state between 1790 and 1919. The purpose is twofold: to present a first normative mapping of this national regulatory system and to demonstrate the relevance of state-issued formal norms as primary sources for the study of economic regulation from a historical perspective.

Keywords: State; Private enterprise; Norms; Regulation; Portugal. JEL classification: K20; K40; K41; L51; N43 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his
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