The Review of Austrian Economics, 18:3/4, 235–240, 2005.
2005 Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. Manufactured in The Netherlands.
Introduction—Forum Series on the Role
of Institutions in Promoting Economic Growth
PETER J. BOETTKE email@example.com
Department of Economics and Mercatus Center, MSN 3G4, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA
By the end of the 20th century it was obvious that earlier public policy models of economic
development and poverty reduction were less effective than desired. As a consequence
international institutions, devoted to promoting development throughout the world, began
a reassessment of their aid programs and the general mode of thinking about the prob-
lem of underdevelopment. Along these lines, the United States Agency for International
Development (USAID) tapped the Institute for Research on the Informal Sector (IRIS) at
the University of Maryland to administer a Forum Series on the Role of Institutions in
Promoting Economic Growth.
The aim of the Series was to improve both the self-understanding of the task of effectively
aiding economic growth and development, and the effectiveness in the delivery of economic
growth and development. The Swedish International Development Agency at roughly the
same time commissioned a study from the researchers associated with The Workshop in
Political Theory and Policy Analysis headed by Elinor and Vincent Ostrom. Again the focus
wasanintellectual reassessment of the role that institutions play in promoting or hindering
economic growth and development (see Ostrom et al. 2002).
Ever since moving to GMU from NYU in 1998, I have been interested in creating a
research niche in our graduate program devoted to international political economy and
transition studies. Soon after my arrival, I taught a course on the Rule of Law and Economic
Development sponsored by the Templeton Foundation in the GMU School of Law with
Todd Zywicki. Several individuals who were involved with the Forums Series participated
in the course and in the related conference.
Iwas also part of the team working with IRIS
during the initial stage of the Forum Series, under the direction of IRIS research director
We organized our research effort at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University
under the name “Global Prosperity Initiative” and I began working closely with several
advanced graduate students interested in questions associated with Austrian economics,
self-governance, institutions and economic development.
At ﬁrst our efforts were limited
to reading groups and internal working paper discussions. But soon our efforts branched out
to engage with other scholars and centers of activity. We began organizing sessions at con-
ferences and publishing working papers in professional journals.
Brian Hooks worked as
both the manager of this project and our organizational entrepreneur as we started to expand.
The intellectual synergies between what we were doing at GMU, what was going on at
IRIS and the intellectual reassessment at USAID and in the development community in