Copying Informal Institutions: The Role of British Colonial Officers During the Decolonization of British Africa.

Journal of Institutional Economics (2017)

24 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2019

See all articles by Valentin Seidler

Valentin Seidler

Vienna University of Economics and Business - Department of Economics

Date Written: July 29, 2017

Abstract

Institutional reforms in developing countries often involve copying institutions from developed countries. Such institutional copying is likely to fail, if formal institutions alone are copied without the informal institutions on which they rest in the originating country. This paper investigates the role of human actors in copying informal institutions. At independence, all British African colonies imported the same institution intended to safeguard the political neutrality of their civil services. While the necessary formal provisions were copied into the constitutions of all African colonies, the extent to which they were put into practice varies. The paper investigates the connection between the variation in the legal practice and the presence of British colonial officers after independence. A natural experiment around compensation payments to British officers explains the variation in the number of officers who remained in service after independence. Interviews with retired officers suggest that the extended presence of British personnel promoted the acceptance of imported British institutions among local colleagues.

Keywords: British colonies, Africa, governance, human capital, public administration, institutional copying

JEL Classification: N47, O43, B52

Suggested Citation

Seidler, Valentin, Copying Informal Institutions: The Role of British Colonial Officers During the Decolonization of British Africa. (July 29, 2017). Journal of Institutional Economics (2017), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3505838

Valentin Seidler (Contact Author)

Vienna University of Economics and Business - Department of Economics ( email )

Welthandelsplatz 1
D4
A-1020 Wien
Austria

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.wu.ac.at/vw1/m/dr-valentin-seidler-ba

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
22
Abstract Views
152
PlumX Metrics