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Comparative Institutional Analysis

Theory, Corporations and East Asia. Selected Papers of Masahiko Aoki

Masahiko Aoki

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Chapter 17: Institutions as cognitive media between strategic interactions and individual beliefs

Masahiko Aoki


ଝ Masahiko Aoki ∗ Stanford University, United States a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t This paper begins with contested issues among various approaches to institutions and seeks an analytical/conceptual framework for integrating them. Based on fundamental studies of knowledge theory and epistemic game theory, it discusses the role of institutions in substantive forms as societal artifacts that cognitively mediate agents’ strategic interactions and their individual beliefs in societal games. This approach is termed as the institutions-as-cognitive-media-view and its implications to the role of culture, institutional complementarities, and policy in the institutional process are discussed. It concludes with a proposal for a three-level approach to institutions: generic-ontological, comparativesubstantive, and policy-design levels. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. Available online 22 March 2011 JEL classification: A1 B4 D8 P00 Keywords: Institutions Institutional complementarities Cognitive media Culture Epistemic game Common knowledge 1. Contested issues in institutional studies Ever since the seminal work of North (1990), a number of scholarly books with the word “institutions” in their titles or subtitles have been published, while a steady quantity of empirical research estimating the economic consequences of institutions has been reported in academic journals.1 Now the maxim “institutions matter” appears to be uncontested. If institutions are so important, then by moving a step forward, we may further ask such questions as, why there can be “good” as well as “bad” institutions in terms of their consequences to economic development and societal evolution; whether a...

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