An Autopsy of Cooperation: Diamond Dealers and the Limits of Trust-based Exchange

Barak Richman (Duke University)

Abstract: Both academic and popular representations of the diamond industry describe trust-based relations that sustain trade and support the industry’s private arbitration system.  In recent years, however, trust among merchants has eroded, and merchants have correspondingly lost confidence in the industry’s arbitration.  This article describes the events that have led to the breakdown of cooperative trust in the industry and derives lessons regarding the nature and limits of stateless reputation-based exchange in the modern economy.

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