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Institutions, distributed cognition and agency: rule-following as performative action

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  • Carsten Herrmann-Pillath

Abstract

Aoki recently proposed the concept of substantive institutions, a concept that relates the outcomes of strategic interaction with public representations of the equilibrium states of games. I argue that the Aoki model can be grounded in theories of distributed cognition and performativity, which I put into the context of Searle's philosophical account of institutions. Substantive institutions build on regularized causal interactions between internal neuronal mechanisms and external facts, shared in a population of agents. Following Searle's proposal of conceiving rule-following as a neuronally anchored behavioral disposition, I show that his corresponding notion of collective intentionality can be grounded in recent neuroscience theories of imitation as the primordial process in human learning. I relate this to Searle's concept of status function and the neuronal theory of metaphors. This results in a precise definition of rule-following as performative action. I present two empirical examples of this: (1) the institution of money, and (2) status hierarchies in markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Carsten Herrmann-Pillath, 2012. "Institutions, distributed cognition and agency: rule-following as performative action," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(1), pages 21-42, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:19:y:2012:i:1:p:21-42
    DOI: 10.1080/1350178X.2012.661066
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Herrmann-Pillath, Carsten, 2009. "Kulturelle Hybridisierung und Wirtschaftstransformation in China," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 115, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
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    Cited by:

    1. Inklaar, Robert & Koetter, Michael & Noth, Felix, 2012. "Who's afraid of big bad banks? Bank competition, SME, and industry growth," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 197, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
    2. Dietmar Harhoff & Elisabeth Mueller & John Reenen, 2014. "What are the Channels for Technology Sourcing? Panel Data Evidence from German Companies," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(1), pages 204-224, March.
    3. Boeing, Philipp & Mueller, Elisabeth & Sandner, Philipp, 2012. "What makes Chinese firms productive? Learning from indigenous and foreign sources of knowledge," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 196, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
    4. Kurt Dopfer, 2013. "Evolutionary Economics," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2013-08, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    5. Alexander Libman & Vladimir Kozlov & André Schultz, 2012. "Roving Bandits in Action: Outside Option and Governmental Predation in Autocracies," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(4), pages 526-562, November.
    6. Yu, Xiaofan, 2011. "A spatial interpretation of the persistency of China's provincial inequality," Frankfurt School - Working Paper Series 171, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
    7. Böing, Philipp & Müller, Elisabeth, 2012. "Technological Capabilities of Chinese Enterprises: Who is Going to Compete Abroad?," Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century 62081, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D87 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Neuroeconomics

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