Completed projects

Modelling institutional dynamics in historical commons (MIDI)

The Modelling institutional dynamics in historical commons (MIDI) project adopted an interdisciplinary perspective to contribute empirically-grounded and systematic knowledge of the mechanisms driving the process of institutional change. Its starting point is a dataset of European commons-management institutions composed by the Research Team Institutions for Collective Action in the Common Rules-project.

The goal of the project was to exploit our interdisciplinary competences to recode the dataset on the basis of a systematic institutional analysis framework, to fully exploit its potential through the use of data mining and evolutionary analysis techniques, and to embed the resulting knowledge in an agent-based model capturing the essential dynamics of institutional change.

The project involves researchers from various research disciplines from Linnaeus University (Sweden), Delft University of Technology (Netherlands), and Tine De Moor and René van Weeren from the Institutions for Collective Action Research Team (then at Utrecht University , The Netherlands). The project is funded by the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond and ran from 1 January 2018 until the end of 2019.


  • Ale Ebrahim Dehkordi, M., Ghorbani, A., Bravo, G., Farjam, M., Van Weeren, R., Forsman, A.,
    and De Moor, T., 2021. Long-Term Dynamics of Institutions: Using ABM as a Complementary
    Tool to Support Theory Development in Historical Studies. Journal of Artificial Societies and
    Social Simulation
     24 (4) 7.
  • De Moor, T., Farjam, M., Van Weeren, R., Bravo, G., Forsman A., Ghorbani, A., and Ale Ebrahim Dehkordi, M., 2021. Taking sanctioning seriously: The impact of sanctions on the resilience of historical commons in Europe Journal of Rural Studies 87, 181-188.
  • Ale Ebrahim Dehkordi, M., Ghorbani, A., Herder, P., Farjam, M., Forsman, A., van Weeren, R., De Moor, T., and Bravo, G., 2021. The Role of Wealth Inequality on Collective Action for Management of Common Pool Resource. In: Ahrweiler P., Neumann M. (eds) Advances in Social Simulation. ESSA 2019. Springer Proceedings in Complexity. Springer, Cham.
  • Forsman, A., De Moor, T., Van Weeren, R., Farjam, M., Ale Ebrahim Dehkordi, M., Ghorbani, A., and Bravo, G., 2021. Comparisons of historical Dutch commons inform about the long-term dynamics of social-ecological systems. PLoS ONE 16(8): e0256803.
  • Forsman, A., De Moor, T., van Weeren, R., Bravo G., Ghorbani, A., Ale Ebrahim Dehkordi, M., and Farjam, M., 2020. Eco-evolutionary perspectives on emergence, dispersion and dissolution of historical Dutch commons. PLoSONE 15(7):e0236471.
  • Farjam, M., De Moor, T., Van Weeren, R., Forsman, A., Ale Ebrahim Dehkordi, M., Ghorbani, A., and Bravo, G. 2020. Shared Patterns in Long-Term Dynamics of Commons as Institutions for Collective Action. International Journal of the Commons, 14(1), 78–90.
  • Animation on temporal distribution of commons in the Netherlands

Consumer cooperatives: 150 years of history of Coop Netherlands

As a voluntary researcher, drs. Pieter Steenbergen used his time within the research group to study the history of consumer cooperatives in The Netherlands. Supported by Coöperatie PLUS U.A., the successor of Coop Netherlands, Steenbergen published the resulting book ‘Van ons, voor ons. 150 jaar veerkracht van consumentencoöperatie Coop’ (For us, by us. 150 years of resilience of consumer cooperative Coop) in March 2024.


A multidisciplinary approach to understand successful collective action: The case of Dutch mutuals

On September 1, 2016, Eva Vriens  (supervised by Vincent Buskens  and Tine de Moor) started her PhD project on sustainable cooperation in citizen collectives. Over the past ten years the number of citizen initiatives increased rapidly in Europe, and in the Netherlands in particular. The PhD project, funded by a Talent Grant of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), aims to uncover how these initiatives can generate conditions for sustainable cooperation. By focusing on the interplay between the individuals involved and properties of the social and institutional environment, it will be investigated what aspects reinforce cooperative efforts and which combinations of individual, social, and/or institutional factors are instead detrimental for fruitful cooperation. To answer these questions, data will be collected in lab experiments and through surveys distributed among members of Dutch Broodfondsen (mutual insurance associations).

Nature or Nurture?

The project ‘Nature or nurture? A search for the  institutional and biological determinants of life expectancy in Europe during the early modern period’, supervised by Tine De Moor has received a VIDI Grant (800 k€) from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). In literature it has been suggested that the rapid loosening of family ties in Northwestern-Europe – due to the emergence of the European Marriage Pattern (EMP) from the late medieval period onwards – would lead to hardship for the elderly, but the (limitedly available) data suggest otherwise. In this project we test two potential explanations for this conundrum, by comparing Northwestern- and Southern-Europe between 1500 and 1900 by (a.o.) testing the Disposable Soma Theory by obtaining and analyzing different types of sources and datasets (such as genealogical trees and location-specific family reconstitutions, and data on religious communities) will be used.


  • Vriens, E., Buskens, V., and De Moor, T., 2021. Networks and new mutualism: how embeddedness influences commitment and trust in small mutuals. Socio-Economic Review 19(3), 1149–1170.
  • Vriens, E., 2021. Mutualism in the 21st century. The why, when, and how behind successful risk-sharing institutions (dissertation).
  • De Moor, T., Duffhues, T., and Vriens, E. 2020. Burgercollectieven staan klaar om de post-coronasamenleving vorm te geven. De Groene [04/05/2020; in Dutch].
  • Vriens, E. and De Moor, T. 2020. Mutuals on the Move: Exclusion Processes in the Welfare State and the Rediscovery of Mutualism. Social Inclusion, 8(1), 225-237.
  • Vriens, E., Buskens, B. and De Moor, T., 2019. Networks and new mutualism: how embeddedness influences commitment and trust in small mutuals. Socio-Economic Review

Also, we examined whether the diversity in institutional solutions (state-provided, collective, market-based) to be found in early modern Northwestern-Europe could have increased the welfare of the elderly. A third subproject inestigates the impact of (biological) life-cycle events and socio-economic behaviour on life-expectancy, with regard to household structures and saving behaviour, thus bringing the insights from the other subprojects together on the household level. The project started in Fall 2013 and collaborated intensively with the CLIO-INFRA-project.


United We Stand 

This project aims at using the datasets from the completed project ‘Data Infrastructures for the Study of Guilds and Other Forms of Collective Action’  – and others – to study the long term dynamics of institutions for collective action in pre-industrial Europe, and this in relationship with changes in marriage patterns and economic development. This project, entitled ‘“United We Stand”. The Dynamics and Consequences of Institutions for Collective Action in Pre-Industrial Europe’, is funded by a European Research Council Starting Grant of 1.2 million €, awarded to Tine De Moor, and ran from 1 January 2010 until 31 December 2014. 


  • Van Zanden, J.L., De Moor, T., and Carmichael, S., 2019. Capital Women: The European Marriage Pattern, Female Empowerment and Economic Development in Western Europe 1300-1800. Oxford University Press.
  • Weeren, R. van, and Boele, A., 2016. Het West-Europese huwelijkspatroon: Beter laat en soms wel nooit? Gen 22 (3), 30-35. Carmichael, S.G., de Pleijt, A., van Zanden, J.L., and De Moor, T., 2016. The European Marriage Pattern and its measurement. Journal of Economic History 76(1), 196-204.
  • Boele, A., Bouman, A., and De Moor, T., 2014. Commerciële huishoudens? De gevolgen van het Europese huwelijkspatroon en de inzet van niet-familiale hulp als overlevingsstrategie voor ouderen in het vroegmoderne Holland (casus: Leiden). In: Kwetsbare groepen in/en historische demografie. Historisch-demografisch onderzoek in Vlaanderen en Nederland. Jaarboek Historische Demografie 2014, eds. Isabella de Vos, Koen Matthijs, en Bart Van de Putte, 21-46. Leuven / Den Haag: Acco.
  • Humphries, J., De Moor, T. and Zuijderduijn, J., 2013. Introduction. European Review of Economic History 17(2; special issue on marriage patterns, household formation, and economic development), pp. 141-6.
  • De Moor, T. and Zuijderduijn, J., 2013. Preferences of the poor: market participation and asset management of poor households in sixteenth-century Holland. European Review of Economic History 17(2), pp. 233-49.
  • Zuijderduijn, J. and De Moor, T., 2013. The art of counting. Reconstructing numeracy in the middle and upper classes on the basis of portraits in the early modern Low Countries. Historical Methods 46 (1), pp. 41-56
  • Zuijderduijn, C.J. and De Moor, T., 2013. Spending, saving or investing? Risk management in sixteenth-century Dutch households. Economic History Review 66 (1), pp. 36-51.
  • Zuijderduijn, J., 2011. Grave concerns: Entailment and intergenerational agency in Amsterdam (1600–1800). The History of the Family 16 (4, Special Issue on Marriage Patterns, Household Formation, and Economic Development), 343-5.
  • Carmichael, S., De Moor, T., and van Zanden, J.L., 2011. “When the heart is baked, don’t try to knead it”; Huwelijksleeftijd en leeftijdsverschil tussen partners als maatstaf van ‘agency’ van vrouwen. In: Levenslopen in transformatie; liber amicorum bij het afscheid van prof. dr. Paul M.M. Klep, eds. Theo Engelen, Onno Boonstra, and Angélique Janssens, 208-21. Amsterdam: Valkhof Pers.
  • Zuijderduijn, J. and De Moor, T., 2010. Tel uit je winst; markteconomie en gecijferdheid in de late Middeleeuwen. Madoc, 24 (3), 130-9.
  • De Moor, T. and van Zanden, J.L., 2010. “Every woman counts”; a gender-analysis of numeracy in the Low Countries during the early modern period. Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 41 (2), 179-208.

Common Rules

The project ‘”Common Rules”. The regulation of institutions for managing commons in Europe, 1100 – 1800’, co-ordinated by dr. Tine de Moor, has been awarded an Internationalisation Grant of 45,597 € by The Netherlands Scientific Organisation (NWO). The project will run from September 2011 until August 2014. This project aims to understand how efficient and effective regulation can be developed, executed by well-functioning institutions. The main objective of the internationalization project is to initiate a European-wide comparison of bodies of rules by studying commons in Western and Southern Europe, using the regulations that can be found in various historical records, for several centuries in each case.

Participants of this project are the research group of Economic and social history of Utrecht University, the research group UPNA-315 “Historia y Economía” of the Public University of Navarra (led by dr. José Miguel Lana Berasain) and a research group of the Department of History from Lancaster University, led by dr. Angus Winchester. Also involved in this project is Claudio Tagliapietra of the University of Bologna.

Click here for more information on the project Common Rules  

Citizens’ collectivities 

During an internship project, a group of students from the Master’s programme Politics and Society in Historical Perspective at Utrecht University were placed with four Dutch organizations active in researching and promoting present-day collective action, in the form of civil initiatives. The students researched several civil initiatives – mainly in the care sector –  by means of a questionnaire that was developed by the Collective Action team with input of the organizations, on specific topics related to the institutional design and functioning of these organizations. The students wrote their master theses on a specific aspect of collective action in self-governing and bottom-up initiatives as part of this project. For the Collective Action team this project was the first implementation of present-day case studies into the research of institutions for collective action.


  • Research report Aedes-Actiz Knowledge Centre for Housing and Care (Internship project master’s programme Politics and Society in Historical Perspective, Utrecht University).
  • Research report Amsterdams Steunpunt Wonen (Internship project master’s programme Politics and Society in Historical Perspective, Utrecht University).
  • Research report BroodFondsmakers (Internship project master’s programme Politics and Society in Historical Perspective, Utrecht University).
  • Research report Het Pon (Internship project master’s programme Politics and Society in Historical Perspective, Utrecht University).
  • Hoveling, M. and Heukers, C., 2016. Coöperaties in NederlandCoöperaties (NCR) (Internship project master’s programme Politics and Society in Historical Perspective, Utrecht University).
  • Noy, F. and Holemans, D., 2016. Burgercollectieven in kaart gebrachtOikos Magazine (Internship project master’s programme Politics and Society in Historical Perspective, Utrecht University). See also this article in De Standaard.

The future of village and neigborhood councils

The Research team Institutions for Collective Action has been asked by Landelijke Vereniging voor Kleine Kernen (LVKK) [National Association of Small Villages] to perform research on the changing role of village councils and neigborhood councils within the so-called ‘participation society’.

Will these councils act mainly as a formal institution in negotiations between local governements and citizens? Or will these also be able to function as liaison between local governments and new citizens’ collectivities in a wide range of social fields, varying from health care to energy production, and if so, how should this role take form?

In this project, the research focused on how societal developments regarding citizens’ participation affects the role and function of citizens’ councils throughout the Netherlands. The research aimed to provide the councils the proper tools to discover and explore which roles they can fulfill and to offer the councils an overview of opportunities and potential pitfalls of the various functions citizens’ councils may fulfill.


Ja ik wil! / Yes I do!

For the project page of our project Yes, I do!, see our dedicated page.

Social entrepreneurship and citizenship

This project, full title: ‘Social entrepreneurship and citizenship. Research into the opportunities for creating a new legal form of private companies and cooperations’, started in January 2013.

The focus of this project was on the research on the need for a new legal form to support the development of community based initiatives in the Netherlands. This project was led by Tine De Moor (Department of History) and Evelien De Kezel, legal expert from the UCALL research centre, both from Utrecht University. 

Data Infrastructure for the Study of Guilds and Other Forms of Collective Action

The project named “Data Infrastructures for the Study of Guilds and Other Forms of Collective Action” (total budget: 495,600 €) ran from 1 September 2007 until 31 August  2011. This project was sponsored by the Dutch Science Foundation (NWO). The aim was to create data sets of bodies – in particular of craft and merchant guilds – which are comparable across time and space for a number of European countries (Italy, the Low Countries and England) and China, in order to be able to analyse their long-term development and relationship with economic growth in more detail. This built on previous work by scholars who have collected data on guilds in these countries, but these data sets have been extended, improved and made comparable in order to allow for longitudinal and spatial comparisons. Moreover, for the Low Countries similar data sets for other kinds of bodies – commons, waterboards, journeymen’s boxes and beguinages – have been compiled, to put the development of merchant and craft guilds into perspective and to get a much broader view on the development of different forms of collective action.


City & State

Researchers of Utrecht University (Maarten Prak, Tine De Moor, and Claartje Rasterhoff) were participating in the Interuniversitary Attraction Pole-project ‘City and society in the Low Countries, 1200-1800: space, knowledge, social capital’. This project, led and co-ordinated by Prof. dr. Marc Boone of Ghent University, aimed at capitalizing on acquired know-how and at the same time at enlarging and rejuvenating the network in order to fulfil expanded scientific goals. Available know-how on urban history in Belgium (and in the Netherlands through collaboration with a Dutch team, consisting of Tine De Moor, Maarten Prak, and Claartje Rasterhoff) is brought together in order to explore topics which reflect current trends in historical research and to evaluate methodological innovation. Three research packages are proposed whose subjects emphasize the socio-cultural and spatial historical approach:  

  1. urban space;
  2. knowledge and culture;
  3. social capital. 

The project was funded by Belgium Science Policy.

Society in between market and state

A major challenge for society is learning how to organize human action in order to stimulate the development of knowledge to solve public problems. The standard repertoire for solving public problems contains mixes of market and state governance, with markets gaining attraction as a solution since the 1980s. However, after the most recent financial-economic crisis, trust in markets as a solution for public problems has decreased significantly. Now that both state and market are regarded as far from perfect solutions for governing society, there is new room for a more realistic perspective that includes a more pluralistic view on governing society, also including collective action that is neither a state nor a market form of governance. The institutionalised form of collective action, whereby stakeholders are immediately involved in the use and management of their collective resources and services, may offer new opportunities to govern public resources from below, not from above.

The current societal problems and the new, although still sketchy forms of collective action that are emerging call for new research on what kind of institutions are needed to solve public problems. Institutional diversity is key in studying the main public problems that our society is facing. Solutions for these public problems can be proposed from the traditional state-market perspective, but in practice collective action might provide better solutions.

Unfortunately there is a lack of comparative institutional studies that provide insights into the potential (monetary and non-monetary) benefits and costs of one type of governance above the other. In this project we aim for a comparative institutional analysis that takes into account the bottom-up initiatives for collective action, and provides a heuristic (cf. Sen 1999; 2009) approach to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of different forms of governance to solve public problems (cf. Dewey 1927). We intend to develop a set of criteria that include not only the economic advantages but include welfare and well-being parameters (see Stiglitz et al. 2009).

This project, being sponsored by Utrecht University on basis of the ‘Focus en Massa’-program,  will deliver new insights into how to organize human action creatively from the bottom-up in order to stimulate the development of knowledge to solve public problems, going beyond the standard repertoire of (mixes of) market and state governance. The proposal also is closely related to research done by the Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regeringsbeleid. Considering the current European-wide search of governments for alternatives to the market and the state as governance regimes for public and other goods and services, this timeliness of this topic cannot be underestimated. For this project 3 postdocs will be hired for one month as visiting scholars to work together on a new plan about the above issues.

Institutionalising Care

Jaco Zuijderduijn and Tine de Moor (both Utrecht University, Research Institute for History and Culture) and Tanja van der Lippe (Utrecht University, Department of Sociology) received a grant from Utrecht University’s ‘Origins and Impacts of Institutions’-program for their research proposal Institutionalising care. Demographic shifts, demand for old-age provisions and institutional change in Europe, in order to prepare a large research proposal.

The project aims at combining historical demography, social and economic history, and sociology to improve our understanding of processes of institutional change. It does so by focusing on the question how societies managed to respond to changes in the demand for care for the elderly, and what can account for the different long-term trajectories visible in the areas that will be studied, and the differences in old-age provisions in present-day Europe.

The research is immediately linked to the topics addressed in the ERC-grant “United We Stand” and issues addressed by Utrecht University’s Research Centre Institutions of the Open Society.

Sustainable and Accessible Health Care in Developing Countries

The Amsterdam Institute for Global Health & Development (AIGHD), PharmAccess, and the Centre for Global Economic History (CGEH) have joined forces in a new exploratory research project, focusing on how to develop and organize a sustainable and accessible healthcare system in developing countries, especially in Africa. This co-operation between AIGHD, PharmAccess, and the CGEH has been initiated by PharmAccess because of their explicit interest to use history as a source of inspiration for developing new instruments within the field of development aid. To this purposes, PharmAccess does not only focus on medical and health insurance-issues, but also on the institutional context regarding the problems in development aid. The research activities will focus on Western-Europe for the historical perspective; and for the present-day cases, the focus will be on sub-Saharan African countries.  Research consist of research of scientific literature on development, research and analysis of cases developed by PharmAccess in developing countries, and research of scientific literature on historical examples of institutions in Western-Europe.

The research is funded by both PharmAccess and Utrecht University and is immediately linked to the topics addressed in the ERC-grant “United We Stand” and the mission statement of the CGEH.