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“Climbing the hierarchical ladders of rules”: A life-cycle theory of institutional evolution

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  • Brousseau, Eric
  • Raynaud, Emmanuel

Abstract

This paper proposes an analysis of the emergence and evolution of institutional frameworks. It explains the causes, process, and outcome of institutional evolution. We first describe the institutional framework as a multilevel system at the bottom of which several “local and flexible” institutions apply to subsets of the society while, at the top, a single “generic and rigid” institution applies to all. Dissatisfied with generic order, promoters of local orders try to design collective governance solutions that are better suited to their needs. If agents are heterogeneous (as we assume), then coordination needs differ and a competitive process begins among sponsors of alternative orders. To benefit from efficiency gains, promoters of local orders encourage adherence to their preferred system of rules. The resulting competition for adherents explains why “local and voluntary” institutions might progressively turn into “generic and mandatory” ones. We thus establish a logical continuum between contractual governance mechanisms and institutions. We then analyze the strategic interplay among sponsors of alternative institutional orders by considering not only the “horizontal” competition among institutions emerging in the same time but also the “vertical” competition between promoters of new rules and sponsors of the established, more generic rules.

Suggested Citation

  • Brousseau, Eric & Raynaud, Emmanuel, 2011. "“Climbing the hierarchical ladders of rules”: A life-cycle theory of institutional evolution," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 65-79.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:79:y:2011:i:1:p:65-79
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2011.01.027
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    Cited by:

    1. Thiel, Andreas, 2012. "The politics of problem solving: A co-evolutionary perspective on the recent scalar reorganisation of water governance in Germany," UFZ Discussion Papers 09/2012, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS).
    2. Thiel, Andreas, 2013. "Towards Understanding the Scalar Re-Organisation of Natural Resource Governance: Factors Derived from Water Governance in Spain, Portugal and Germany," 53rd Annual Conference, Berlin, Germany, September 25-27, 2013 156967, German Association of Agricultural Economists (GEWISOLA).
    3. Brousseau, Eric & Garrouste, Pierre & Raynaud, Emmanuel, 2011. "Institutional changes: Alternative theories and consequences for institutional design," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 79(1-2), pages 3-19, June.
    4. repec:ags:gewipr:261497 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Helmsing, A.H.J., 2013. "Analyzing Local Institutional Change," ISS Working Papers - General Series 50073, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Bargaining power; Clubs; Core members; Institutional framework; Institutional evolution; Institutional layers; Marginal members; Network externalities; Order;

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • P14 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Property Rights
    • P48 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Regional Studies

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