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Adam Smith's and Douglass North's Multidisciplinary Approach to Economic Development


  • Kwangsu Kim

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    • The author is a Professor in Economics at Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul 110-745, Korea. Email: This article was supported by Samsung Research Fund 2010, Sungkyunkwan University. The author appreciates the helpful comments of the two anonymous referees and the editor of this journal.


This article aims to point out Adam Smith's and Douglass North's multidisciplinary approach to economic development and history. Based on a philosophical link of methodological issues, Smith and North shared a conceptual framework and explanatory principles in common as well as similar historical illustrations. In terms of the use of comprehensive and integrated models of society, politics, and economy, they presented that economic development relies on how far congenial both institutional environments and sociocultural values of justice, liberty, security, and equality are to economic agents, allowing the interplay between economic performance and polity/culture. Meanwhile, these suggest a bridging role between old and new institutionalism, and, more importantly, a revival of Smithian moral philosophical tradition in the history of economics.