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Business Ethics Essay

1490 words - 6 pages

Throughout the past few centuries, man has evolved from scrounging for scraps to an incredibly high quality of life. This is possible through efficient economic organization, and is how the process of creating an efficient economic system has spread from Western Europe to North America, and further. “Economic growth occurs if output grows faster than population” (33). Throughout their book, Douglass North and Robert Thomas aspire to describe the fundamentals behind the ascent of the Western European economy over the past millennium, and what the causes are for that economic growth.
North and Thomas argue that an efficient economic system leads to growth within a given country, followed by ...view middle of the document...

Eventually there would be shift from the feudal/manorial systems, to a system of specialization and trade that required some sort of monetary compensation. However, by the thirteenth century most land had was occupied, and laborers were not difficult to come by. Land was now more valuable because of this, and laborers were worth a lot less, considering the increasing amount of them. Over the next few centuries this shift in amount of land vs. amount of laborers would alternate drastically. Eventually, this would lead to a complete overhaul of the entire system and the creation of free markets.
During the end of the Middle Ages there was essentially no market for goods, only the archaic Manorial system between the lord and laborer mentioned above. Land was incredibly easy to come by but safety was not. Peasants, or serfs, would work for local lords in order for protection from Vikings, Moslems, and Magyars that would ravage their homes. Despite the simplicity of this system, it was chosen over slavery for a number of reasons. According to North and Thomas, “the costs of enforcement were high, and the costs of supervision were relative to the alternative of serfdom” (65). The system of serfdom allowed for less supervision on the lords part, as well as happier laborers that would not be inclined to rebel.
“Over man’s history fertility has always tended to outstrip mortality, and population has grown despite the temporary setbacks” (67). With children being a successful source of labor, and costing little in comparison at the time, people began to have more children as well. This increase in population would lead to scarcity of land and diminishing returns, and eventually the resulting famine and such would revert society to its previous place, with scarce labor and a plethora of land. The question North and Thomas aim to answer in the following section is, “Why did Northern Europe develop during the high Middle Ages to attain lasting dominance” (79)? Marxian scholars believe that this consistency developed from a large increase in technological innovation that would become widely and publicly used throughout society. This would include improvised agricultural and water systems, as well as animal, wind, and water related power. The alternative thesis that North and Thomas presents suggest that population growth is entirely responsible for the solidity of Western Europe during this time. In short, it is proposed that the increase in population would lead to the settling of multiple terrains and locations, thus leading to multiple different types of innovation and production based on environment. This would allow trade of products between different regions leading to the development of a free market economy.
At the turn of the thirteenth century western society began to flourish with increases in population, urban expansion, and trade/commerce development. However, this time of growth eventually became known as the bridge between the frontier...

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