«Inaugural-Dissertation zur Erlangung des Doktorgrades des Fachbereichs Wirtschaftswissenschaften der Johann-Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am ...»
or the state of the industrial arts, institutionalists have found that the logic of industrialization has profound effects on social, economic and political organization and on the nature of culture, just as culture has profound effects on the adoption and operation of technology‖.144 This work regards the emphasis on technology for the explanation of institutional change as less fruitful for a description of the transformation of the Chinese economic system. Although technology should not be neglected as a significant component, the dichotomy of static institutions versus dynamic institutions has to be overcome if we are to develop an explanation that includes the social, cultural and political elements in gradual institutional change.145 However, American Institutionalism also emphasizes the role of culture for determining social structures. Cultural change is caused by the behavior of individuals, but the connection is not made between this kind of evolutionary process and technological change conceived as the sole dynamic element and cause of progress; although ―[f]or the institutionalists the economic system not only comprises more than the market, it is an ongoing cultural process with elements which co-evolve through complex processes of cumulative causation‖.146 This kind of institutional change is analyzed and systematically structured in the modern version of institutionalism described below.
The more modern versions of theories of institutional change are mostly specifically targeted towards the changes in the institutional structure of advanced capitalist societies ―associated with a significant renegotiation of the politically regulated social market economy of the postwar period‖.147 The concept is also used to describe the transformation processes in Eastern European countries. It has often been associated with the notion of path dependence, which suggests that transformation can only occur in two forms; gradually, or suddenly and discontinuously. To characterize change as path-dependent also implies that the notion of the rational design of institutional arrangements from scratch is rejected, complete with efficient incentive structures (see also chapter 5 for an analysis of the different forms of transformation).148 Samuels, 1995, p. 573 Lawson, 2005, p. 18f.
Samuels, 1995, p. 574f.
Streeck and Thelen, 2005a, p. 4. Others are concerned with the evolution of rules and norms. See for example Ostrom and Basurto, 2010.
Streeck and Thelen, 2005a, p. 6. The term path dependence originates from the works of the economist and mathematician W. Brian Arthur and of the economic historian Paul A. David. It was popularized by Paul A. David who illustrated the concept with the now famous example of the QWERTY keyboard layout. This example demonstrates that a technology can be stabilizing even if the reason for its development ceased to exist and more optimal and efficient alternatives could have been chosen. Beyer, 2005, p. 7, David, 1985, David, 2000. Douglass North generalized path dependence and made it the foundation for his theory of institutional change. For him, institutional change is a continuous incremental process triggered by self-interested individuals and competition between organizations. Beyer, 2005, p. 9, North, 1990, p. 95f. Path dependent Path dependence can also be interpreted as a punctuated equilibrium model that combines long periods of continuity with abrupt radical changes.149 ―Institutional analysis of capitalism must expect, therefore, not order in equilibrium, but what Beckert has called a ‗dynamic disequilibrium‘: a continuous contest between creative destruction of social rules by enterprising innovators interested, at best, in expedient voluntary arrangements for efficient coordination from below, and political projects to defend or regain a modicum of social stability‖. Streeck claims that in contrast to the accepted wisdom that with the help of institutional change institutions per definition tend towards stability and order, they rather have a tendency toward ―public disorder‖.150 Economic systems are considered to be ―merely moments in continuous processes of change‖ and hence stability is only a ―temporary product of social and political construction‖.151 Although change can be triggered by external events (shocks), it is more often generated endogenously, even involving a ―‗dialectical‘ self-undermining of institutions and social orders in the course of their normal operation‖. In his view, complementary institutional arrangements, either (politically) designed or developed accidentally, are only temporary.152 The notion of path dependence merely confirms that institutions matter in so far as ―different institutional arrangements are likely to remain different and will in particular not converge on a universal model‖.
Although institutions are restricted by their past or by other institutions, the evolution of institutions cannot be ascribed to an ―unfolding historical process‖ that results in a capitaldevelopment itself can be defined as a contingent design of a process that has been chosen from a variety of alternative possibilities, which are also called trajectories or development paths. Lehmann-Waffenschmidt and Reichel, 1999, p. 4. The concept of path dependence is based on the notion that the range of alternative possibilities of the future development of a variable is influenced by the past and present. Certain trajectories are excluded due to the evolution of past events. Friedrich, 2000, p. 2. Thus, path dependence is often connected to the notion of institutional lock-in, which implies that divergences from and changes to a path are the exception or even impossible. Beyer, 2005, p. 6. One of the most famous studies related to the concept of path dependence has been produced by Avner Greif who states that ―…my findings suggest the theoretical and historical importance of culture in determining societal organizations, in leading to path dependence of institutional frameworks, and forestalling successful intersociety adoption of institutions‖. Greif, 1994, p.
914. Path dependence in Greif‘s view is caused by the complementary interaction of institutions and the positive feedback mechanism triggered by them. Ackermann, 1999, p. 107. Often, the concept of path dependence is used on a very general level that emphasizes the significance of the past in the sense that ‗history matters‘. Beyer, 2005, p. 10 However, especially Veblen‘s arguments of institutional change are reminiscent of the concept of path dependence. The concept of ―cumulative causation‖, often used by Veblen, but also other authors of American Institutionalism such as Myrdal, is by some authors compared to that of path dependence, although the first is a much broader concept than the latter. However, in arguing for a selfreinforcing process both concepts resemble each other, although Veblen does not argue that past events can prevent a certain development from happening. Cumulative causation is also not regarded as a series of static equilibria. Hayter, 2004, p. 104f. Path dependence, path creation and path plasticity became an autonomous field of research that includes researchers such as Thelen, 2004, Dimaggio and Powell, 1991. Storz, 2009, Storz and Pascha, 2005.
Pempel, 1998, p. 1, 3.
Streeck, 2009a, p. 246, referring to Beckert, 2007a.
Streeck, 2009a, p. 2.
Streeck, 2009a, p. 2.
ist economic system. The process of capitalist development is often associated with an undermining of collective institutions that traditionally, hence in pre-capitalist times, imposed social obligations upon individuals to constrain their behavior. These ‗traditional‘ institutions are replaced by contractual ones ―that are voluntary rather than obligatory….[C]apitalist development is fundamentally misconstrued as a collective and consensual quest for ever higher levels of efficiency – as historical progress, or a contingent lack of such, in a collective effort at ‗economizing‘ transaction costs‖.153 Streeck argues that the development of institutions follows no particular direction and is thus not influenced by ―a historical mode of production and social order‖.154 What is even more definite than the flexibilities of structures is general uncertainty, as societies are historical processes and their social systems can already be regarded as outdated as soon as they are fully developed. Theories of institutional change in claiming that dynamics are more prevalent than statics, therefore overturned the accepted wisdom.155 From this point of view gradual change, although mostly regarded as non-disruptive, is also transformative. Therefore, as slow change is easily overlooked, the time horizon of analysis has to be broadened to be more detailed.156 Correlational analysis assumes ―that cause produces effect essentially immediately without delay and friction; that the time that passes between cause and effect is short enough to be negligible; and that ‗independent‘ and ‗dependent‘ variables are tightly coupled when in fact their relationship may realize itself only with time‖. Thus, it is necessary to discard ―the correlational machine model of society…, which, just like neo-classical economics, tend to treat time, and transitions in time, as too short to be worth attention or make a difference‖ to understand gradual change.157 The description of the actual process of institutional change mostly remains vague and not very concrete, except for one approach that has been conceptualized by Thelen and Mahoney and later also employed by Streeck.158 Thelen originally defined two ideal-type stylized modes of endogenous institutional change, namely ‗conversion‘ and ‗layering‘.159 This approach was later augmented to five types of gradual change that added displacement, drift and exhaustion.160 Conversion and layering are ―stylized representations of inStreeck, 2009a, p. 5.
Streeck, 2009a, p. 13.
Streeck, 2009a, p. 119.
Streeck, 2009a, p. 16, Mahoney and Thelen, 2010, p. 3.
Streeck, 2009a, p. 16, 122.
Thelen, 2003, Streeck and Thelen, 2005b. See Héritier, 2007 as a summary of less palpable approaches.
Thelen, 2003, Thelen, 1999, Mahoney and Thelen, 2010, a summary also in Djelic, 2010.
Streeck and Thelen, 2005a, p. 18, Streeck, 2009a, p. 14ff., summary on p. 31.
stitution-building practices of policymakers who are prevented by the existing social order and the interests embodied in it from creating entirely new institutions from scratch‖. Trying to introduce a new institutional framework will most likely not succeed and result in defeat of the actors in power. One alternative strategy for real change is thus to leave existing institutions intact, while attaching new elements to the old institutional structure that will gradually change the overall status and behavior of the existing institutional environment. Another way is to ―undertake stepwise to devote old institutions to new purposes, instead of trying to undo them and create new institutions in their place‖. The first would be institutional change by layering, the latter by conversion.161 Layering sets path-altering dynamics in motion by amendments, additions or revisions to existing institutions, meaning that new rules are attached to existing ones, thereby changing the structure of behavior.
The creation of new layers does not directly undermine already existing institutions, but they can alter the overall trajectory of development in supplanting or crowding-out the older set of institutions. The compromise between old and new institutions causes the older ones to stagnate and finally being defeated.162 ―Due to this friction among various institutional layers, actors may establish adaptive patterns that are simultaneously new, yet familiar‖.163 In contrast to layering (and drift, see below), conversion means that existing institutions are ―redirected to new goals, function, or purposes‖.164 Although the formal characteristics of an institution remain unchanged, their purpose can change drastically. Subtle and small changes in relatively stable times and environments can be of great importance, since over time they accumulate into substantial transformations. It is not a result of neglect, but is instead produced by actors that actively exploit the ambiguities of the gap between rules and their application. This can occur when the original rules were already ambiguous enough to allow for differing interpretations.165 The third mode, drift, occurs ―when a changing environment distorts the intended effects of an institution in a way that fits the interests or intentions of agents with power over its design‖.166 Institutional change happens when no measures are taken to readjust the institutions to fit their original purpose, and thus when rules are not enforced. In the case of drift and conversion, the weakness of administrative capacities plays an important role in Streeck, 2009a, p. 124f.
Streeck and Thelen, 2005a, p. 22ff., 31, Tsai, 2006a, p. 119, 121, Mahoney and Thelen, 2010, p. 20f.
Tsai, 2006a, p. 121.
Streeck and Thelen, 2005a, p. 26ff., Tsai, 2006a, p. 119.
Thelen, 2004, p. 292, Tsai, 2006a, p. 122, Mahoney and Thelen, 2010, p 22, 26.
Streeck, 2009a, p. 124f.