Acemoglu and Robinson’s theory presented in their famous Why Nations Fail, and other papers, should be placed among the institutional theories of economic development. Yet the problem is they strongly differentiate their concept from the so-called culture hypothesis, which they reject. This stance is difficult to accept, not only because of the significance of culture-related factors of economic development, but it is also difficult to reconcile with their own model.
The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that such a strong rejection of the culture hypothesis is inconsistent with their own analysis, triggers some principal problems with understanding the basic notion of institution, and suggests Acemoglu and Robinson are only focused on considering formal institutions. The article concludes with the statement that, paradoxically, Acemoglu and Robinson’s unconvincing rejection of the culture hypothesis may be regarded as a justification of the importance of culture-related factors.