Abstract: Over the last millennium, the clan and the corporation have been the loci of cooperation in China and Europe respectively. This paper examines – analytically and historically – the cultural and institutional co-evolution that led to this bifurcation. We highlight that groups with which individuals identify are basic units of cooperation. Such loyalty groups influence institutional development because intra-group moral commitment reduces enforcement cost implying a comparative advantage in pursuing collective actions. Loyalty groups perpetuate due to positive feedbacks between morality, institutions, and the implied pattern of cooperation.