July 15, 2014

Rivalry, Polycentricism, and Institutional Evolution

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We argue that the future of Austrian political economy rests on the study of how institutional entrepreneurs discover and implement alternative institutional arrangements conducive to economic growth. This requires a dual level of analysis in spontaneous order studies. How such institutional arrangements manifest themselves is ultimately an empirical question. As a progressive research program, Austrian political economy will entail cross-fertilization with other empirical branches of political economy that illustrate its own central theoretical contributions to political economy, namely economic calculation, entrepreneurship, and spontaneous order by having applied to the constitutional level of analysis. Accordingly, we argue that such cross-fertilization with the work of Ronald Coase and Elinor Ostrom will further expound the institutional counterpart of “rivalry” in the market process, namely polycentricism and its empirical manifestation. Understanding the distinct relationship between rivalry and polycentricism will provide the central theoretical underpinning of institutional evolution.