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Advanced Introduction to Law and Development

Michael J. Trebilcock and Mariana Mota Prado

This book offers a concise and accessible introduction to the main themes and debates in the field of law and development. It unpacks the role of legal systems and institutions, and investigates what kinds of law and legal arrangements are perceived (correctly or not) to encourage and facilitate development.
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15 Conclusion

Michael J. Trebilcock and Mariana Mota Prado


This book has sought to provide a concise introductory survey of the current state of scholarly knowledge about the relationship between law, institutions and development. We conclude this enterprise by identifying some of the theoretical, methodological and practical issues that scholars confront today in the field of law and development and institutional theories of development.

Perhaps the most pressing issue is the possibility of a universal theory. One can investigate the field of development under the assumption that, despite the numerous particularities of different countries, there is a common set of factors that will determine a country’s development prospects. For example, most theories of development discussed in Chapter 2 share this assumption, ascribing development to a particular cause (the economy, geography, culture or a country’s institutional arrangements). There are, however, scholars who argue that the search for a general theory of development is futile as a country’s fate will be determined by a series of factors that are quite unique and particular to that country. We should instead be discussing separately the particular circumstances of, for example, Brazil, China and the Sudan.

This divergence of views regarding the existence of a “universal theory” of development can also be found in microcosm in institutional theories of development. Some scholars believe that it is possible to conceive of a general theory of institutional development or institutional change.1 In contrast, strong scepticism is espoused by those who see the institution-building exercise as a complex and dynamic phenomenon, informed by...

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