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Interests versus culture in the theory of institutional change?

  • Zweynert, Joachim
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    This paper suggests an analytical framework to bring two explanations of institutional change together. My analysis rests on three building blocks: Firstly on the idea of the transfer or transplantation of institutions, secondly on the idea of functional differentiation, and thirdly and decisively on an understanding of culture as a toolkit leaving room for interest, choice and strategic action. The concepts of institutional transplantation and of functional differentiation will be introduced in the following section. In the third one, I will reformulate North's neoclassical theory of the state and his elaborations on culture and belief systems in terms of these concepts. Section four, then, offers a proposal of how to bridge the gap between the two approaches. Throughout the paper, I will use the example of Russia to illustrate my theoretical thoughts, a country I have been studying for years and which, as North (1999,9) remarks, is particularly suited to explain the problems of economic change. In section five I will outline in very basic terms how the history of failed attempts at reforms in Russia might be interpreted from the perspective developed here.

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    Paper provided by Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI) in its series HWWI Research Papers with number 5-3.

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    Date of creation: 2007
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:zbw:hwwirp:5-3
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    1. Douglass C. North, 2005. "Introduction to Understanding the Process of Economic Change
      [Understanding the Process of Economic Change]
      ," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
    2. Tilman Slembeck, 1997. "The Formation of Economic Policy: A Cognitive-Evolutionary Approach to Policy-Making," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 225-254, August.
    3. Nils Goldschmidt & Bernd Remmele, 2005. "Anthropology as the basic science of economic theory: towards a cultural theory of economics," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(3), pages 455-469.
    4. Olson, Mancur, 1963. "Rapid Growth as a Destabilizing Force," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(04), pages 529-552, December.
    5. Rutherford,Malcolm, 1994. "Institutions in Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521451895.
    6. Searle, John R., 2005. "What is an institution?," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(01), pages 1-22, June.
    7. Wohlgemuth, Michael, 2002. "Evolutionary Approaches to Politics," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(2), pages 223-46.
    8. Zouboulakis, Michel, 2005. "On the evolutionary character of North's idea of institutional change," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(02), pages 139-153, December.
    9. Denzau, Arthur T & North, Douglass C, 1994. "Shared Mental Models: Ideologies and Institutions," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 3-31.
    10. Polterovich, Victor, 2001. "Трансплантация Экономических Институтов
      [Transplantation of Economic Institutions]
      ," MPRA Paper 22034, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Douglass C. North, 2000. "Understanding institutions," Chapters, in: Institutions, Contracts and Organizations, chapter 2 Edward Elgar.
    12. Morgan, Glenn & Whitley, Richard & Moen, Eli (ed.), 2006. "Changing Capitalisms?: Internationalization, Institutional Change, and Systems of Economic Organization," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199205288, July.
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