When do institutional transfers work? The relation between institutions, culture and the transplant effect: the case of Borno in north-eastern Nigeria

Valentin Seidler

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Little is known of why institutional transfers have been largely disappointing. Berkowitz et al. (2001) have argued that because of what they call the transplant effect, imported law lacks effectiveness unless there is an initial level of familiarity or the imported law is successfully adapted to local legal norms. Yet, history shows that institutional transfers are possible: Why have some countries been more successful than others in importing foreign institutions? The paper introduces a framework for the analysis of the transplant effect, which is based on institutional economics. In the second part, we investigate the case of Borno State in northeastern Nigerian where institutions transferred during colonial rule and upon independence have been largely ineffective. In the case of Borno, the lack of a European educated bureaucratic class, low commitment of the political leadership, generally low levels of education and urbanization contributed to the low effectiveness of imported institutions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371 - 397
JournalJournal of Institutional Economics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 502049 Economic history
  • 502018 Macroeconomics
  • 509003 Development cooperation

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