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Institution Building and Variation in the Formation of the Australian Wool Market

Authors

  • David Merrett,

    1. University of Melbourne
    2. University of Wollongong
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  • Simon Ville

    1. University of Melbourne
    2. University of Wollongong
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    • We acknowledge the helpful comments on institutional theory by Paul Tracey who is, of course, absolved of any responsibility for the views presented here. The authors also thank staff at the University of Melbourne Archives, the Noel Butlin Archives Centre at the Australian National University, and the John Oxley Library at the Queensland State Library for their assistance. We are grateful for funding from the Australian Research Council under project DP 1095758.

Abstract

The relocation of the wool market from London to the major Australian port cities from the late nineteenth century required the formation of an institution to govern the auction business, namely the wool brokers' association. Regional variations, among Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, occurred in the structure and effectiveness of the institution despite each regional association having been formed around the same time, for the same purpose, and with an overlap of participating firms. We draw on institution theory to guide our account and find that the impact of legacy factors and differences in market conditions explain the regional variations.

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