October 6, 2011

Institutional Design and Ideas-Driven Social Change

Notes from an Ostromian Perspective
  • Peter J. Boettke

    Director, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
  • Paul Dragos Aligica

    Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
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What happens if, instead of the typical approach that gives a position of preeminence to institutional theory and considers institutional design an extension of peripheral interest, we start by focusing on institutional design and we consider institutional theory in the light of its instrumental value to design? Elinor and Vincent Ostrom's work is a case-study giving many clues and some possible answers to this question. Their approach is well-known for aiming not so much at grand theory building but rather at specific problems of collective action, governance, and social dilemmas. Making the practical and applied dimension the starting point as well as the filter of our interest reveals a different configuration of concepts marking and linking the practice-to-theory continuum. And it is perhaps surprising, but definitely noteworthy, that the notion of ideas-driven social change emerges as crucial.

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