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On defining institutions: rules versus equilibria




In their stimulating paper, Hindriks and Guala (2014) bridge the prominent alternative conceptions of institutions-as-rules and institutions-as-equilibria, by proposing a ‘rules in equilibrium’ interpretation. This comment argues that the task of defining institutions as a class of phenomena is different from the tasks of understanding or analysing them. Definitions are classification devices and are typically ill-based on behavioural outcomes such as equilibria. Accepting the useful insights of the Hindriks and Guala (2014) article, attention to the matter of definition reinstates a rules-based approach, notwithstanding the importance of understanding and analysing equilibria. The comment establishes a broad definition of institutions as systems of rules, which includes organizations. Finally this comment raised some of the problems involved in understanding the nature of institutional rules.

Suggested Citation

  • Hodgson, Geoffrey M., 2015. "On defining institutions: rules versus equilibria," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(3), pages 497-505, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jinsec:v:11:y:2015:i:03:p:497-505_00

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    Cited by:

    1. Pietro Guarnieri, 2017. "Commitment to norms and the formation of institutions," Discussion Papers 2017/227, Dipartimento di Economia e Management (DEM), University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.
    2. Ménard, Claude, 2017. "Meso-institutions: The variety of regulatory arrangements in the water sector," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 6-19.
    3. Izabela Ostoj, 2019. "On the validity of the division into formal and informal institutions," Ekonomia i Prawo, Uniwersytet Mikolaja Kopernika, vol. 18(1), pages 61-72, March.
    4. Pavez, Iciar & Codron, Jean-Marie & Lubello, Pasquale & Florêncio, Maria Cecilia, 2019. "Biosecurity institutions and the choice of contracts in international fruit supply chains," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 176(C).
    5. Georgina M. Gómez, 2019. "Money as an Institution: Rule versus Evolved Practice? Analysis of Multiple Currencies in Argentina," Journal of Risk and Financial Management, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(2), pages 1-14, May.
    6. Maru, Yiheyis & Sparrow, Ashley & Stirzaker, Richard & Davies, Jocelyn, 2018. "Integrated agricultural research for development (IAR4D) from a theory of change perspective," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 165(C), pages 310-320.
    7. Gutmann, Jerg & Voigt, Stefan, 2019. "Traditional law in times of the nation state: Why is it so prevalent?," ILE Working Paper Series 29, University of Hamburg, Institute of Law and Economics.
    8. Claudius Graebner & Amineh Ghorbani, 2019. "Defining institutions - A review and a synthesis," ICAE Working Papers 89, Johannes Kepler University, Institute for Comprehensive Analysis of the Economy.

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