What the rational choice approach does tend to deny is that the institutions play any significant role in shaping preferences of the participants. Their methodological individualism in turn leads them to think that an approach without such a foundation cannot be useful for explaining behavior. For example, in one of the earliest statements of this approach, Anthony Downs (1957) assumed that politicians would maximize their utility by seeking to be re-elected. Further, in this view, change is rarely the rational, planned exercise found in strategic plans, but rather tends to be emergent and more organic. Comparative Politics provides a comprehensive, theoretical, and methodological introduction to the field of comparative politics. In particular, most rational choice approaches are attempting to solve the 'Arrow Problem' (1951; 1974) of how groups of people can make decisions that satisfy the conditions of a social welfare function without having that decision imposed through authority.s Institutions create what Shepsle (1989) referred to as a 'structure induced equilibrium' through their rules on voting, so that certain types of outcomes are more likely than are others. As discussed above hriefly, law is the essential element of governance for most Continental countries, and certainly plays a significant role in Anglo-American thinking about the public sector. The literature on game theory points to the importance of repeated games as a means of establishing greater cooperation and mutual compliance among the participants in a game. The first is that individuals can gain some benefits from membership in an institution and therefore are willing" to sacrifice some latitude of action in order to receive those benefits. Some use very conventional categories such as the difference between presidential and parliamentary 20 INSTITUTIONAL THEORY IN POLmCAL SCIENCE government (Weaver and Rockman, 1993), while others use most analytic categories such as 'decision points' (Immergut, 1992a). This internal differentiation of the institutionalist approach implies several additional things about contemporary theoretical developments. The most basic question in the consideration of institutional analysis is what constitutes an institution in each of the approaches. Guy Peters. It is strong on providing explanations for behavior within existing sets of rules than it is in explaining the processes through which those rules are created. Author Peters, B. Axelrod (1984), for example, points to the development of 'tit-for tat' strategies in repeated plays of Prisoner's Dilemma10 games. Table of Contents Contents: Preface to 4th edition 1. Year; Governance, politics and the state. If they decide to meet every Thursday afternoon at the same time and place, that would begin to take on the features of an institution. The attempted reconquest of the discipline by the institutionalists has been far from complete, and there are still marked tensions between it and several other components of the discipline. - Livres INSTITUTIONAL THEORY IN POLITICAL SCIENCE For example, the large literature on 'informal organization' existing within formal organizations points out just how important norms that may be at odds with the formal norms are in explaining behavior. Her research has been particularly interested in institutions devised to cope with some of the thornier problems of public policy, e.g. The way that was found around the problem at the time was that entrepreneurs (Frohlich, Oppenheimer, and Young, 1971; see also Kingdon, 1994) would be the imperfection in the system that would drive it forward. We said above that rational choice theory was not very good at describing where institutions come from, and why they emerge. Further, the properties of any collectivities tend to be derived from the choices of the individuals, rather than vice versa, or even having the individuals also influenced by the norms, rules and values of the institutions. One list of the requisite functions for the political system was: recruitment, interest articulation, interest aggregation, rule making, rule application, rule adjudication and political communication (Almond and Powell, 1967). Very much like variables conventionally used to describe (bureaucratic) organizations, such as differentiation and specialization (March and Simon, 1957), routines are assumed to make the behavior of an organization more predictable and more rational. "Changing Government in an Era of Retrenchment and Committment." c. A Tabula Rasa. In areas of the discipline such as voting behavior there was an ongoing struggle between those who ascribed behavior more to social factors (e.g. The assumption appears to be that if people understand the consequences of institutional choices there will be little doubt about the decisions to be made. In other words, political life is analyzed as simply doing things through the public sector, rather than as a complex interaction of symbols, values, and even the emotive aspects of the political process. l More recently Kernan (1996b) has made somewhat the same distinction, arguing for the utility of 'institutional rational choice,' and Fritz Scharpf (1997) has written about 'actor-centered institutionalism'. For example, the old institutionalism argued that presidential systems are significantly different from parliamentary systems based upon the formal structures and rules. Governance as Political Theory B. Following from the above analysis, institutions tend to be defined by rules and by sets of incentives. Kenneth Arrow won the Nobel Prize in 1972 largely for his contributions to welfare economics (1951), specifically the observation that it was impossible to develop a social welfare function that would be guaranteed to generate a decision satisfying the preference orderings of all participants in a society. That is, it had to develop some general, internally consistent statements that could explain phenomena in a variety of settings. For example, when introducing the subject of comparative analysis, Wilson asks (p. 41 ) what are the functions of government, a question that presages some of the later functionalism in comparative politics. 1 Whereas at one time institutions and institutional analysis wer~ "aimost-written out of the discipline, they have now made a major comeback and have become a central part of the discourse of political science. The most stark contrast to the assumptions of the normative institutionalists is the school of Rational Choice Institutionalists. 12. If we were to understand the world of politics, we had to look at the people who inhabited that world and ask them why they did what they did. For example, military organizations attempt to suppress internal dissent, but often cannot keep down' orthogonal' leaders such as Charles de Gaulle and his interests in armor (Doughty, 1985), or Billy Mitchell and his interest in air power (Gauvreau and Cohen, 1942). Some economic theorists (Becker, 1986) have gone so far as to apply rational choice analysis to social institutions such as marriage. A similar change has occurred after the American military began to integrate women into the combat arms, rather than confining them to traditional positions such as nurses and clerk/ typists. Cite icon close. Therefore, to be concerned with political institutions was (and is) to be concerned with law. One such issue is that there is sometimes little relationship between the institutions described in theory and the institutions with which the members of those structures are familiar. IS Few political institutions are capable of molding behavior of their members in quite the way that might be hoped by the formulators of an institution. 14. This school was a reaction against the natural law orientation of much legal thinking in France at the time, and attempted to establish a more INSTITUTIONALISM OLD AND NEW 7 positivist approach to the law. What criteria can be utilized to determine whether an institution exists or not? 8. The adage in Washington, DC, is that 'buildings don't make telephone calls.' For example, Douglass North has discussed institutions as 'the rules of the game for society or, more formally, ... humanly devised constraints that shape human interactions' (1990, p.3). These are happy assumptions but not ones necessarily borne out in fact. If we now skip over most of several centuries and move to the latter part of the nineteenth century, we come to the period in which political science was beginning to differentiate itself as an academic discipline. The argument was that if political science was to be a true science then it had to develop theory. 9. Despite the numerous alternative ways of thinking about rational choice within institutions, the differences among the answers to these questions are not very great. The virtue of the institution is that the rules are agreed upon in advance so that the participants realize what they are agreeing to when they join the institu.. tion. By having the alternative perceptions of the issues there can be greater certainty that all cases of monopolistic behavior will be prosecuted. Our partners will collect data and use cookies for ad personalization and measurement. What this body of theory does not do, however, is to differentiate clearly those relationships encountered within an institutional format from the more general case of principal-agent models. Institutionalism, both old and new, argues that causation can go in both directions and that institutions shape social and economic orders. It is very difficult to find any situation in which individuals could be said not to be acting rationally in the context of some possible set of incentives or another. The mercurial and fickle nature of individual behavior, and the need to direct that behavior toward collective purposes, required forming political institutions. We will now proceed to answer the questions we have set for ourselves. is it falsifiable, or is it just a general viewpoint on political life that really adds little to the armamentarium of the researcher in the discipline? These questions will address the scientific status of the theory, as well as its utility for the actual description of political behavior. The other was T. D. Woolsey (aiso an Ivy League university president), entitled Political Science, or The State Theoretically and Practically Considered (1893).7 Clearly these major academic figures did consider political science as the study of the State and an exercise in formallegal analysis. In the past decade there has been a major growth of interest in institutional theory and institutional analysis in political science. This breakdown can be considered as a process of deinstitutionalization, especially within a normative framework. Some, e.g. The Utilitarianism of March and Olsen is concerned with the tendency to value decisions for what they produce for the individual, rather than as representing some intrinsic value of their own. That is: Can we explain the behavior of individuals by the structures in which they function or do we look to individual action to explain the behavior of structures? Thus, applying an institutionalist characterization to this body of literature does not appear to violate its basic pattern of thought, although these patterned relationships may not correspond closely to other patterns of institutional theory. Institutions have their 'logics of appropriateness' that define what behavior is appropriate for members of the institution and which behavior is not. Even within more 'normal' political institutions the personal ambition of politicians may not correspond very well to societal norms about the role of the public official as a servant of the people. The new institutionalism goes farther and sets about trying to determine if these assumed differences do indeed exist, and if so in how the two ways of organizing political life differ, and what difference it makes for the performance of the systems (Weaver and Rockman, 1993; Von Mettenheim, 1996). In particular, the critics argued that there was a very strong bias in favor of the industrialized democracies of the world as prese;nting a model, or actually the model, of how government should be run.\To some extent the emphasis on formal-legal institutions tended to exclude countries with less formalized arrangements as having government in any meaningful sense~What is perhaps most interesting about this argument is that critics of approaches such as structural functionalism and 'the Civic Culture' (Almond and Verba, 1963) were quick to point out that the newer forms of analysis had many of the same biases, albeit dressed up in more complex language. 6. 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