mercoledì, maggio 15, 2013

Workshop su "Institutions and Economic Change"

Dear Colleagues

Registration for the following event is still open:


This International Workshop of the Group for Research in Organisational Evolution (GROE) will be held on 20-21 September 2013 at Hitchin Priory, Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England.


Masahiko Aoki (Stanford University, USA)  - “Between the Economy and the Polity: Causation or Correlation. Theory and a Historical Case from China”

A recent widely-read book, Why Nations Fail, by D. Acemoglu and J.A. Robinson argues that differences between extractive and inclusive political regimes generate different economic performance. In other words, political institutions are the cause of economic performance, although they admit a modicum of feedback from the latter to the former. Then how are political institutions selected? They argue that there are elements of serendipity. My paper attempts to challenge their view theoretically and with a case study of China. Theoretically, I base my argument on the following three points. First, in societal games of the economy, the polity and social relations, agents base their strategic choices on their beliefs. These are formed relying on linguistic public representations (such as organizations, constitutions, laws, norms, ideologies and so on) as external cognitive resources. However, for those public representations to appear credible, reliable, enforceable, legitimate and reasonable to agents, they must mediate salient features of recursive states of play and individual beliefs of the agents as substantive forms of institutional processes. Second, strategic play of the domains of the economy, the polity and social relations are linked and/or mutually complementary by the mediations of public representations of salient features of ways the games are recursively played and expected to be played. Finally, as stable states of play become failing to sustain themselves through the endogenous developments of economic performance, experimental, potential and/or sub-optimal choices of play become emergent. Corresponding to such situations, varied political programs and public discourses start to compete for saliency of public representations. This takes place in the public domain nested in the above-mentioned domains of societal games. There are feedbacks between the two. Thus institutional change in the sense of change in salient public representations is bound to be path-dependent and correlates (co-evolves) with economic and social progress. In the second part of the paper I illustrate the above arguments by analyzing institutional evolution in China from the time of stable state of the Qing Dynasty (18 century), to its demise (1850-1911) and the transitory period of violent competition for political hegemony (1911-1949), culminating in Mao’s revolution. For this, I start with a stylized model of economic organizations in the Qing period (the so-called Malthusian stage) and discuss what kinds of political institution and social norm strategically complemented them. Then I go on to discuss why and how the Qing political state finally failed to sustain itself, yet how it left its legacies in subsequent state-building.

Francesca Gagliardi (University of Hertfordshire, UK) - “A Bibliometric Analysis of the Literature on Institutional Complementarities”

The notion of institutional complementarities (ICs) is mobilized in the explanation of persistently different institutional arrangements, both across and within socio-economic systems. In essence, ICs imply that the institutions that become established at various levels of a system, and their relative performance, are context dependent rather than being invariably conditioned by strict efficiency considerations. This undermines the idea of an optimal configuration towards which all
socio-economic systems should converge, emphasizing that adjustment processes are to a large extent constrained by history and the structures inherited from the past. In a 2005 article published in the Evolutionary and Institutional Economics Review, Robert Boyer called for a paper surveying the available research on ICs, in order to clarify the nature of the mechanisms involved. In the absence of such a survey, he argued, one may fear that the concept of ICs may degenerate into a buzz word and a misleading fad. To fill this gap and advance our understanding of ICs, this paper provides a bibliometric analysis of the literature available on the topic. The aim is to get a sense of how research themes and methodologies have evolved over time in order not only to generate useful insights on the state of the art but also identify trajectories that future studies should explore.

Geoffrey Hodgson (University of Hertfordshire, UK)  - “A Manifesto for Legal Institutionalism”
Social scientists have paid insufficient attention to the role of law in constituting the economic institutions of capitalism. Part of this neglect emanates from inadequate conceptions of the nature of law itself. Spontaneous conceptions of law and property rights that downplay the role of the state are criticized here, because they typically assume relatively small numbers of agents and underplay the complexity and uncertainty in developed capitalist systems. In developed capitalist economies, law is sustained through interaction between private agents, courts and the legislative apparatus. Law is also a key institution for overcoming contracting uncertainties. It is furthermore a constitutive part of the power structure, and a major means by which power is exercised. This argument is illustrated by considering institutions such as property and the firm. Complex systems of law have played a crucial role in capitalist development and are also vital for developing economies.

Jack Knight (Duke University, USA) - “Courts and Institutional Change”

A common claim in the literature on economic development is that the rule of law is a necessary element of the institutional foundation of economic growth. There are similar claims about the value of the rule of law for the development of other social goods like good governance and stable social order. Implicit in all of these accounts is the assumption that the rule of law has a positive effect on the types of institutional change that would be necessary to facilitate greater economic growth and more effective governance. But in most of these accounts the role of judges and courts, the central institutional component of the rule of law, remains underspecified and under investigated. In this paper I will focus on the role of judges in processes of institutional maintenance and change. In doing so I hope to identify the mechanisms by which courts may facilitate and/or hinder institutional change and thus to offer a more realistic and complete account of the relationship between the rule of law and social goods like economic growth and good government.

Suzanne Konzelmann (Birkbeck College, University of London, UK) - “‘Picking winners’ in a Liberal Market Economy: Modern Day Heresy – or Essential Strategy for Competitive Success?”

This paper explores the current debate about industrial strategy and the UK’s hesitant acceptance of a possible role for the state in addressing the challenges confronting British industry in the wake of the 2007/8 financial crisis. In this context – and following the 2012 London Summer Games – political leaders have been pointing to the strategy that succeeded in reversing the British Olympic team’s fortunes following its nadir at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games; and they are suggesting that there may be lessons for industry. However, the political rhetoric has yet to be translated into action. Analysis of the elite sport strategy, in the light of the evolving literature on industrial strategy and policy suggests that although there are details that are specific to sport, there are also aspects of the general strategic approach that can be used to inform the design and implementation of a strategy aimed at developing and improving the international competitive performance of UK industrial sectors and manufacturers. The significance of the UK elite sport strategy is that it was evolved and successfully implemented in the British social, political and economic context, building on and improving existing institutional capabilities.

Richard Langlois (University of Connecticut, USA) - “The Institutional Revolution: A Review Essay”

This review essay discusses and appraises Douglas Allen’s The Institutional Revolution (2011) as a way of reflecting on the uses of the New Institutional Economics (NIE) in economic history. It praises and defends Allen’s method of asking “what economic problem were these institutions solving?” But it insists that such comparative-institutional analysis be imbedded within a deeper account of institutional change, one driven principally by changes – often endogenous changes – in the extent of the market and in relative scarcities. The essay supports its argument with a variety of examples of the NIE applied to economic history.

Ugo Pagano (University of Siena, Italy) - “Synergy, Conflict and Institutional Complementarities”
In biology the evolution of species is influenced by two types of complementarities. One type is mostly related to the synergies among and within organisms while the other is the outcome of the conflicts among different species and among members of the same species. In both conflictual and synergetic complementarities, the traits selected in one domain affect the traits selected in the other domain and both complementarities involve the co-evolution of some traits. However synergies and conflicts involve different mechanisms and interact with each other generating complex dynamics. Social and economic systems are characterized by a similar range of interacting complementarities. Whereas technology and property rights tend to have synergistic complementarities, workers' and capitalist organizations are mostly characterized by conflictual complementarities. The evolution of the different varieties of capitalism, as well as of different patterns of technological specialization across countries, can be better understood in terms of both typologies of complementarities and by their interactions. The comparative history of the American and the German economies is used to illustrate how models of capitalism can diverge, building over time different types of institutional complementarity.


This workshop is designed to provide in-depth discussion of cutting-edge issues, in a forum that permits the attention to detail and definition that is often lacking in larger, conference-style events. The expected maximum number of participants is 50. Our past Workshops have filled up rapidly, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

The workshop will include a poster session where participants may present their research, as long as it is related to the workshop theme. To apply to be included in the poster session send an abstract of your paper to Francesca Gagliardi (

To reserve a place on the workshop please visit

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