To be a successful pirate one needs to know a great deal about naval warfare, the trade routes of commercial shipping, the armament, rigging, and crew size of potential victims, and the market for booty.
To be a successful chemical manufacturer in early twentieth century United States required knowledge of chemistry, potential uses of chemicals in different intermediate and final products, markets, and problems of large scale organization.
If the basic institutional framework makes income redistribution (piracy) the preferred economic opportunity, we can expect a very different development of knowledge and skills than a productivity increasing (a twentieth century chemical manufacturer) economic opportunity would entail. The incentives that are built into the institutional framework play the decisive role in shaping the kinds of skills and knowledge that pay off.
Douglass North em Institutions, institutional change and economic performance, 1990.