Tim Harford discusses Pete's work on pirates in the Financial Times.
Leeson’s message is that pirate crews faced a serious challenge of governance. Without any possible appeal to a higher legal body, pirates were forced to create their own organisations, constitutions and checks on executive power. Traditionally, a ship’s captain had absolute authority over the crew; the resulting abuses of power in the official navies and merchant navies were so appalling that they served as recruiting tools for the pirates.
Pirate captains adopted a different approach. They retained authority over strategy, tactics and navigation, but delegated discipline, rations and punishments to the quartermaster, who was elected by the crew. Leeson, following a tradition of libertarian economic thinking, argues that this form of private-sector piratical governance was far more effective than the official state-sponsored version.