Starting from the second half of the 20th century, New Institutional Economics became one of the most influential economic areas of enquiry through the seminal contributions of Coase, Williamson and North. This strong amount of research was defined as a «renaissance» of old institutionalism developed by Commons, Veblen, Ayres and Mitchell. This study analyses contributions by development economists on institutions. The reason that prompted this investigation is twofold. Firstly, as it emerges from the seminal contributions of Hirschman, Rostow and Lewis, development economists offer an in-depth analysis of the role played by institutions in the development processes. Secondly, the common features between the institutional analysis elaborated by development economists are highlighted as well as that offered by Old Institutional Economics. Such analytical convergence originated from the necessity to study complex processes – the structural changes in many countries after the World Wars and the promotion of economic development in poor countries – where non-economic factors play a crucial role and a holistic and historical approach is needed.
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