1st Edition

Institutional Economics Perspectives and Methods in Pursuit of a Better World

Edited By Charles J. Whalen Copyright 2022
    316 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    316 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    Institutional economics is a sociocultural discipline and policy science which draws on the idea that economies are best understood through an appreciation of history, real-world institutions, and socioeconomic interrelations. This book brings together leading institutionalists to examine the tradition’s most essential perspectives and methods.

    The contributors to the book draw on a broad range of institutional thought from the classic work of Thorstein Veblen, John R. Commons, and Karl Polanyi, to the newer viewpoints of post-Keynesian institutionalism, feminist institutionalism, and environmental institutionalism. Methods range from frameworks used to analyze public policy and institutional change, to modes of analysis including myth busting, historically grounded narratives, and computer-based simulations. Each chapter surveys the origins, development, key features, applications, and frontiers of a particular viewpoint, framework, or mode of analysis. Due consideration is given to both strengths and weaknesses; and woven into the chapters is attention to core institutionalist concepts, including technology, institutions, culture, and complexity.

    The book provides economists with promising starting points for new research, students with contributions refreshingly in touch with the real world, and policymakers and social scientists with compelling reasons for engaging further with the institutionalist tradition.

    Introduction: the institutionalist tradition in economics


    1    Institutions, technology, and instrumental value: a reassessment of the Veblenian dichotomy

    2    Reasonable value: John R. Commons and the Wisconsin tradition

    3    Market society and the institutional theory of Karl Polanyi

    4    Grappling with an ever-changing economy: the evolution of post-Keynesian institutionalism

    5    Culture, gender, and feminist institutionalism

    6    Environmental sustainability in social context: an original institutionalist perspective


    7    Investigational economics: a practitioner’s guide to economics in the tradition of John R. Commons

    8    Institutional impact analysis: the situation, structure, and performance framework

    9    Myth busting: institutional economics and mythopoetics

    10    Storytelling and institutional change: the power and pitfalls of economic narratives

    11    System dynamics, data science, and institutional analysis


    Charles J. Whalen is Research Fellow at the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy, University at Buffalo, USA. For over three decades he has contributed to institutional economics, national economic policy discussions, equitable regional development, and worker engagement in business decision-making. This is his fifth book.

    "Charles Whalen's edited volume is a major contribution to institutional economics and policy analysis. It can be read as an introduction to institutional economics or as a guide to what contemporary institutionalism is, where it is headed, and how it can contribute to a better world. Unlike many edited volumes, this one is a great read...Whalen should be congratulated for his judicious selection of both topics and contributors. There is not a weak chapter in this volume."

    -    Jim Peach, Journal of Economic Issues

    "Overall, the idea of a holistic and realistic purview of the economy, shaped by an ever-changing social and institutional environment, makes this book an important con-tribution to economic theory, policy, and education. The book’s title implies that the only reason to study economics is to make this world a better place in which to live. I think this is a principle to be shared by all social scientists and it is one that is genuinely and whole-heartedly served by this book." 

    -    Asimina  Christoforou, Panoeconomicus

    "This collection is a most valuable updating of institutionalist perspectives and methods.…This book should be read by all institutional economists and others interested in learning about contemporary institutionalism."

    - Malcolm Rutherford, University of Victoria, Canada

     "Charles Whalen has assembled a team of distinguished authors….This lively, timely collection bridges original institutionalism with newer developments in theory and practice such as environmental sustainability, culture and gender, financialization, and innovative modeling."

    - Deborah M. Figart, Stockton University, USA

    "This collection of essays reaffirms the vitality and ongoing potential of the original institutional economics of Thorstein Veblen, John R. Commons and others. This is an important and stimulating book for institutional researchers in economics and other disciplines."

    - Geoffrey M. Hodgson, Loughborough University London, UK

     "Institutional Economics: Perspectives and Methods in Pursuit of a Better World provides an invaluable suite of contributions that demonstrates the relevance of the institutionalist tradition for the 21st century. Today’s pre-eminent scholars extend the methods of Polanyi, Keynes, Commons, and Veblen (among others) through new applications and empirical techniques. As such, they create a body of knowledge upon which scholars, practitioners and activists can build to confront the ever-changing facets of our world. The book is a ‘must have’ reference."

    - Susan K. Schroeder, University of Sydney, Australia

    "In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, societies will need to rethink the role of a market economy in social provisioning. Institutional Economics: Perspectives and Methods in Pursuit of a Better World contributes to that rethinking through its fresh attention to economists such as Veblen, Commons, Polanyi, Galbraith, and Minsky. The book’s distinguished contributors advance institutionalism by highlighting the importance of culture, gender, finance, the environment, citizen engagement in problem solving, and a critical look at longstanding myths about market-based economies."

    - Alicia Girón, National Autonomous University, Mexico

    "This book presents the contemporary state of institutional economics along with new methodologies….It is timely in that it enables economic analyses which consider not only efficiency but also pluralistic values including gender equality, worker wellbeing, and environmental protection."

    - Hiroyuki Uni, Kyoto University, Japan

    "Whalen and his contributors provide much food for thought….Includes inquiry into instrumentalism, environmentalism, feminism, methodology and more."

    - William M. Dugger, University of Tulsa, USA