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Claude Ménard and Mary M. Shirley

When New Institutional Economics (NIE) first appeared on the scholarly scene in the early 1970s, it was a transformative movement. NIE aimed to radically alter orthodox economics by showing that institutions are multidimensional and matter in significant ways that can be statistically measured and systematically modeled. In the decades since, thousands of articles and books have pursued this premise and NIE has evolved from an upstart movement to a major influence on researchers in economics, political science, law, management, and sociology. What made New Institutional Economics a radical idea was that it abandoned: [. . .]the standard neoclassical assumptions that individuals have perfect information and unbounded rationality and that transactions are costless and instantaneous. NIE assumes instead that individuals have incomplete information and limited mental capacity and because of this they face uncertainty about unforeseen events and outcomes and incur transaction costs to acquire information. To reduce risk and transaction costs humans create institutions, writing and enforcing constitutions, laws, contracts and regulations – so-called formal institutions – and structuring and inculcating norms of conduct, beliefs and habits of thought and behavior – or informal institutions. (Menard and Shirley, 2005, p. 1)

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Edited by Israel Doron and Nena Georgantzi

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Edited by David Levi-Faur and Frans van Waarden

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Edited by Israel Doron and Nena Georgantzi

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Robert C. Kloosterman, Virginie Mamadouh and Pieter Terhorst

This chapter starts with a brief history of the concept ‘globalization’. It highlights the rather surprising rapid emergence of the concept in the 1990s when it acquired a very prominent status in both academic and public debates. After that, some of the many meanings of globalization are explored. More in particular, the focus is on the plurality of geographical expressions as well as of current geographical approaches to the manifold processes of globalization. The chapter argues that the spatial dimension – in marked contrast to the temporal dimension – has long been neglected in social sciences in general. Current processes of globalization require an a priori acknowledgment of the fundamental role of space as these processes may be articulated in very different ways in different places. Geographical approaches, characterized by a sensitivity to space, place and spatial scales, are highly relevant to understand processes of globalization.

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Annika Zorn, Jeff Haywood and Jean-Michel Glachant

The introduction discusses how the digital trend that has substantially disrupted other sectors is transforming the higher education sector or even posing a threat to academic institutions’ core business. What could be the rationale for higher education institutions to incorporate a comprehensive digital agenda into their core strategy? Outlining the main developments over the past years in the areas of education, research and knowledge sharing, the authors argue that academic institutions are still far from grasping the full potential of what the digital offers to the academy. Not only does the adoption of online and open practices allow universities to respond to major challenges facing them today, but a digital vision also allows higher education institutions to re-define their role in society. Subsequently, the authors outline how the examples discussed in the book, stemming from a variety of academic contexts, will enrich our understanding of what ‘moving online’ might entail and how to make it work in practice.

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Israel (Issi) Doron and Nena Georgantzi

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Ainsley Elbra and Richard Eccleston

Blatant corporate tax avoidance has attracted the ire of politicians, citizens and consumers the world over in recent years. Since the financial crisis of 2008, international taxation has become a mainstream political issue championed by social justice campaigners and the progressive press the world over. Globally, governments and intergovernmental organisations have announced a range of reforms designed to ensure that MNCs pay their ‘fair share’ of tax, while some of the world’s most powerful and profitable firms have been subjected to multibillion-dollar fines.

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Harald Wydra and Bjørn Thomassen

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Joe Williams and Erik Swyngedouw

The opening chapter of this book makes the intellectual and political argument for a more critical understanding of seawater desalination as an emerging phenomenon of water governance. Its purpose, in this sense, is to politicise seawater. The chapter provides an overview of the historic and contemporary development of desalting technologies and the global desalination industry. We argue that, rather than seeing desalination as a water management ‘solution’, it should instead be understood as a socio-technical and political ecological ‘fix’, which allows cities, regions and countries to overcome some of the hydrological barriers to growth and accumulation, while creating or intensifying other social and ecological contradictions. These contradictions, we demonstrate, revolve around the governance of water, privatisation and commercialisation, the water-energy nexus, and marine ecology. Finally, we summarise the substantive chapters included in the book.