Political Property Rights and Governance Outcomes
A Theory of the Corporate Polity
Originally published in Journal of Private Enterprise
I present a theory of political property rights that complements familiar Tiebout mechanisms in explaining governance outcomes. I argue that when the structure of political property rights is such that the polity most closely resembles a corporation, governance will be largely productive. In contrast, when the structure of political property rights is such that the polity is characterized by a tragedy of the commons, governance will be largely predatory and will promote rent seeking. I illustrate my theory with reference to two corporate-like polities, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the literature on private city planning on urban development. I also discuss the assumptions to which my analysis is sensitive. I conclude by exploring possible future trends in governance in light of my theory.