Institutional Economics: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Institutional Economics

1st Edition

By Bernard Chavance


96 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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This introduction to institutional economics, follows the history of the field since the early 20th century until the present day. It concentrates on influential authors in the main schools of institutional economics.

Institutional economics is defined as economic thought that considers institutions to be relevant for economic theory, and consequently criticizes the neoclassical mainstream for having pushed them out of the discipline; it deals specially with the nature, the origin, the change of institutions, and their effects on economic performance. It is a family of different theories that were initially influential in economics, then lost much of their weight in the middle half of the 20th century, and eventually recovered significant creative vitality and impact in the last twenty years. The book puts the recent developments in historical perspective by showing how important themes like the importance of habits, the role of formal and informal rules, the relation of organizations and institutions, the hierarchy and complementarity of institutions, the evolutionary character of institutional change, have been explored by various authors or schools.


'This book constitutes a good comprehensive and simple guide to institutional economics. It thus demonstrates how important institutional economics can be to understand the real world. The various institutional perspectives presented help to the common roots and differences of contemporary approaches and therefore to grasp the man made complexity and the interdependencies of our economies. This book is in that respect a valuable guide to select relevant institutional approaches depending on the issues addressed.' -- Pascal Petit, CEPREMAP, France.

"This brief introduction to institutionalism is well organized and covers the major principles behind the various incarnations of institutional economics. …book does what it sets out to do – provide a short, concise history of the institutional influences of economic theory." -- CHOICE (Aug 2009, Vol. 46); M. Steckbeck, Campbell University

Table of Contents

I. Introduction: the institutionalist families in economics, II. Original institutionalism, 1.Schmoller and the German historical school, 2. Veblen's ‘evolutionary institutionalism’, 3. Hamilton: institutional economics, 4. Commons: organisations and institutions, 5. Polanyi and the economy as an instituted process, III. The Austrian school and ‘ordoliberalism’, 1. Menger: the organic and pragmatic approaches, 2. Hayek’s ‘Orders’ and ‘Rules’, 3. Eucken and ‘ordoliberalism’, IV. The new institutional economics, 1. Williamson and the mechanisms of governance, 2. North: formal and informal institutions, 3. Game theory and comparative institutional analysis, V. Contemporary European currents of thought, 1.Regulation theory: historical macroeconomics, 2. The economics of conventions: interpreting the rules, 3. Hodgson and the revival of the ‘old institutional economics’, VI. Unity and diversity of institutionalisms

About the Author

Bernard Chavance is Professor of Economics at the University Paris Diderot, France. He has published several books on comparative economic systems and institutions, particularly on socialist systems and post-socialist transformation. His book Economic reforms in the East: From the 1950s to the 1990s (1992, Nathan) has been translated into English (US), Russian, Japanese and Chinese.

About the Series

Routledge Frontiers of Political Economy

In recent years, there has been widespread criticism of mainstream economics. This has taken many forms, from methodological critiques of its excessive formalism, to concern about its failure to connect with many of the most pressing social issues. This series provides a forum for research which is developing alternative forms of economic analysis. Reclaiming the traditional 'political economy' title, it refrains from emphasising any single school of thought, but instead attempts to foster greater diversity within economics.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / General