Institutional changes as the object of scientific research

Stoyko O. M. Institutional changes as the object of scientific research

The three main problems of theoretical studying institutional changes are defined. The first problem is the nature of institutions, which often perform distributive function to a considerable amount of agents. In other words, institutions can not only resolve, but also intensify conflicts between actors. So, institutional changes, that reduce benefits some actor, or give any advantages to others, will require more efforts for their implementation. The situation becomes more complicated if there are a huge number of participants. Various agents have own considerations and preferences for desired content and form of institutional arrangements.

In such situation reaching a consensus among such a diversity of participants is quite difficult if possible at all.

The second issue in studying the institutional changes is presented by limitations of rational approach to the explanation of agent behavior. We should recognize that some actors will act not instrumentally and strive to achieve short-term, but not long-term objectives. We also should keep in mind that the results of institutional changes can be unwanted to actors, which agreed on their realization. The special attention should be given to limits of our knowledge and lack of essential information, needed to make reasonable decisions. A simple problem can be easy resolved, but if the complexity is increasing, which is typical for the institutional arrangement that will improve the situation of a particular social group or a large part of the actors, the lack of knowledge and information becomes more apparent.

The last problem concerns the context of changes, directed on radical changes of institutes or certain rules. The more radical is reform, the more opposition from actors it will provoke. According to their radicality institutional changes can be classified as displacement, layering, drift and conversation (the more moderate changes are last).

The other interest issue is correlation the institutional changes in different spheres of social life. For example, authoritarian regimes provide the better conditions for reforms then democratic one. But the successful transition of post socialist countries in Europe proved that democracy also can promote economic and institutional reforms.

Key words: institution, institutionalism, rational choice theory, democracy, transit.

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