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Engaging the evolution of varieties of capitalism: a two-tier approach to examining institutional change


  • Mastroeni Michele

    () (Innogen Institute, University of Edinburgh, Old Surgeon’s Hall High School Yards Edinburgh Midlothian EH1 1LZ, UK)


There is a continuing need for an analytical approach to institutional change, especially as applied to incremental, agent-driven change. Important institutional change can be incremental and not necessarily linked to immediate crisis. Institutional adjustments initiated by actors in the course of meeting specific economic and political goals can unblock systemic bottlenecks leading to improved economic performance. Aggregate incremental change could also lead to system evolution that deviates significantly from the original system model. This paper presents an approach that engages agent impact on the institutional system, and the political or social motives for action; the two-tiered approach moves away from the categories described in Varieties of Capitalism, one of the more influential approaches to analyzing institutional impact in an economy. Instead of static national categories, the approach presented in this paper differentiates between defining institutions and instrumental institutions, the differences in ease and speed of change which characterize each institutional tier, and how the system’s evolution is impacted by the combined effect of changes in each tier. Differentiating between institutions in this manner, the paper provides an approach that is more flexible in explaining the interactions between agents and institutions, and the changes which may result.

Suggested Citation

  • Mastroeni Michele, 2013. "Engaging the evolution of varieties of capitalism: a two-tier approach to examining institutional change," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 14(4), pages 1-30, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:buspol:v:14:y:2013:i:4:p:1-30:n:4

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Henrekson, Magnus & Jakobsson, Ulf, 2003. "The Swedish Model of Corporate Ownership and Control in Transition," Working Paper Series 593, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    2. Henrekson, Magnus & Rosenberg, Nathan, 2001. "Designing Efficient Institutions for Science-Based Entrepreneurship: Lessons from the US and Sweden," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 207-231, June.
    3. Cortell, Andrew P. & Peterson, Sysan, 1999. "Altered States: Explaining Domestic Institutional Change," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 29(01), pages 177-203, January.
    4. Taylor, Mark Zachary, 2004. "Empirical Evidence Against Varieties of Capitalism's Theory of Technological Innovation," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(03), pages 601-631, July.
    5. Jacob, Merle & Lundqvist, Mats & Hellsmark, Hans, 2003. "Entrepreneurial transformations in the Swedish University system: the case of Chalmers University of Technology," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(9), pages 1555-1568, October.
    6. Bruno Amable & Stefano Palombarini, 2009. "A neorealist approach to institutional change and the diversity of capitalism," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00345887, HAL.
    7. Hall, Peter A. & Gingerich, Daniel W., 2009. "Varieties of Capitalism and Institutional Complementarities in the Political Economy: An Empirical Analysis," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 39(03), pages 449-482, July.
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