Redefining the Rules of the Economic Game
Edited by Marie-Laure Djelic and Sigrid Quack
Chapter 1: Theoretical Building Blocks for a Research Agenda Linking Globalization and Institutions
Marie-Laure Djelic and Sigrid Quack The objective of this chapter is double. First, we take stock of the ways in which the institutionalist literature deals with issues of institutional change and institutional emergence. Then, we try to show how the connection we make between globalization and institutions opens up new theoretical directions. Under the label ‘institutionalism’ or ‘institutional theory’, one finds a rather heterogeneous body of literature originating from different disciplines and based on rather distinct ontological assumptions about human behaviour. Building upon Hall and Taylor (1996) and Djelic (2001) we identify three main and distinct perspectives on institutions that we label respectively ‘rational choice’, ‘cultural’ and ‘historical’. TOWARDS A TYPOLOGY OF INSTITUTIONAL ARGUMENTS The ‘rational choice’ perspective is found predominantly amongst economists and political scientists – particularly for the latter group in the international relations literature. This perspective tends to focus on formal and structural political and economic institutions. The existence of institutions is accounted for in an essentially functionalist way – institutions are there because they solve problems for actors. Institutional order is seen as arising from negotiations between rational actors pursuing preferences or interests that will in a particular case be better served through coordinated and institutionalized action (Crouch and Streeck 1997). Self-interested actors make decisions and create institutions which they believe most efficient in a particular situation (North 1981; Williamson 1985). From this perspective, both the origins of those frames and action within them reflect a ‘logic of expected consequences’ (March and Olsen 1998). ‘Cultural’ and ‘historical’ perspectives...
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