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Seminar – Contagious institutions? A longitudinal study of institutional spill-over effects of European guilds and other forms of institutions for collective action

Universiteit van Amsterdam

Guilds became in the course of approx. 600 years the most dominant form of business organisation and as an institution for collective action in Europe in the late medieval and early modern times. These organisations show many similarities with the currently rapidly emerging citizen collectives in domains as energy, care, food and insurance. In order to get a better understanding of how and why such organisations emerge, we turn to historical counterparts that developed rapidly and widespread across Europe, and played a vital role in its economic development. This paper investigates the proliferation of guilds as it remains unclear what explains their diffusion as an institutional archetype across Europe. Whereas most research attributes the emergence of guilds to contextual, exogenous factors – such as urban development and population growth – the current study focuses on explaining guild emergence through spatiotemporal factors, related to the time and place of guilds’ emergence itself. Through a longitudinal analysis spanning the 12th to the 19th century, we examine the diffusion of guilds across four European countries—Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Utilizing historical guild data, our study delves into how spatiotemporal factors, rather than primarily contextual, exogenous elements, influenced the emergence and spread of guilds. Theoretically, we draw on strategy and learning mechanisms elucidated in the theories of institutional diffusion and of institutional relatedness.

Hybrid from REC M4.02


  • Tine de Moor (Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam)


Plantage Muidergracht 12,
1018 TV Amsterdam