Quotation Seidler, Valentin. 2018. Copying informal institutions: the role of British colonial officers during the decolonization of British Africa. Journal of Institutional Economics . 14 (2), 289-312.




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. This publication has been financed by Austrian Science Fund (FWF J3848-G28).


Press 'enter' for creating the tag

Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Journal article
Journal Journal of Institutional Economics
Citation Index SSCI
WU-Journal-Rating new FIN-A, VW-D, WH-B
Language English
Title Copying informal institutions: the role of British colonial officers during the decolonization of British Africa
Volume 14
Number 2
Year 2018
Page from 289
Page to 312
Reviewed? Y
URL https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-institutional-economics/article/copying-informal-institutions-the-role-of-british-colonial-officers-during-the-decolonization-of-british-africa/D849E6274C321C381BD90025DF7289EF
DOI https://doi.org/10.1017/S1744137417000443
Open Access N


Seidler, Valentin (Details)
Department of Economics (Crespo Cuaresma) (Details)
Research areas (Ă–STAT Classification 'Statistik Austria')
5340 Economic history (Details)
5371 Macroeconomics (Details)
5962 Development cooperation (Details)
Google Scholar: Search