Institutions in the Transport and Communications Industries: State and Private Actors in the Making of Institutional Patterns 1850–1990
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Andersson-Skog, Lena, and Olle Krantz, eds., 1999, 359pp., Illus.
This book shows how the awareness of a broader institutional discourse helps both in rephrasing old themes and in discovering new issues in transport history. Economic historians, together with distinguished scholars from other disciplines, here present the fabric of a "modern" transport history in the light of the general theoretical influences . . . together with more traditional approaches. The focus of the chapters is either on the establishment of regulation in an industry or the long-term process causing a shift from the institutional pattern to another. The character of the empirical studies varies with the nature of the political and social systems examined. The scope of investigation is selective. Some studies concentrate only on economic processes and ignore the political dimension, others attempt to illuminate the interaction between political and economic processes but only for a single industry. Some studies start from, and never abandon, the classic neo-classical model, even through the model has been adjusted to include a political dimension. Other studies are of a completely different origin, especially those dealing with norms, customs, and cultural behavior in various institutional settings. Hence the book presents a wide variety of theoretical approaches. An unintentional effect of this theoretical multitude is a certain inconsistency, or even vagueness, that sometimes characterizes the concepts used. Even though homogenous definitions are sometimes not provided, there should be no problem in interpreting the meaning of the different terms used in the articles. An institutional approach no doubt vitalizes transport history. Conceptual clearness and consensus will appear when both the traditional and the new approach has matured.
“ . . . a valuable contribution to the growing literature on the transportation industry and its political economy, well worth the attention of business historians whose interests lie in these areas.” —Enterprise & Society