Importance Of Institutional Analysis

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The most general argument in favour of institutional analysis lies in the idea that institutions have to be interpreted by political actors (Lowndes and Roberts 2013). Institutions do not act. Only actors act. What this means is that just as institutions are the result of the actions of actors, so post-institutional outcomes are the result of equivalent actions. In other words, even if institutions have been constructed in a particular way on the basis of very specific preferences, actors still have to work within these institutional structures subsequently. They have to make sense of the institutions that have been set in place. Yet, political actors, like all humans, are imperfect, occasionally irrational, and at least sometimes self-interested.…show more content…
That is to say, they can be interpreted in ways that differ from the motivations of their founders. This line of argument could be taken to mean that institutions are still irrelevant. After all, just as only actors act, so only actors interpret. This seems like a resolutely actor-centred account of political life. Yet, actors are interpreting constitutions, laws, decrees, and other institutional features of the political landscape. In short, even though institutions are chosen endogenously, there is a subsequent interplay between institutions and the actors who interpret the rules and regulations that comprise them. This way of thinking about institutions can help us to understand why we would want to study them even when we are aware of the endogeneity problem. It can also help us to understand why we would bother to study them under conditions of autocracy. For example, why do autocrats, such as the leaders of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, bother to tinker with the constitution? Why do they feel the need to abolish term limits if their control over the system is so strong that they can actually abolish them in the first…show more content…
As we presented the problem of institutional endogeneity above, we assumed that the preferences of the institutional designers were clear and that institutional structures perfectly reflected their preferences. This is hardly likely to be the case. There are times when institutional choice may the result of a collective decision, perhaps in the context of a first post-independence constitution. In this case, the preferences underpinning institutions may not necessarily be clear at all. We can also imagine the situation where constitutions are passed very quickly and in very turbulent circumstances (Andrews and Jackman 2005). Again, here, there may be much less deliberation involved, suggesting that institutions do not reflect carefully selected preferences. Put formally, actors may have incomplete information on which to base their post-institutional preference ordering (Shvetsova 2003). More than that, we might wish to assume that competing preferences cancel each other out at the point of constitutional choice. If so, then institutions can be treated as stand-alone entities with rules that shape subsequent behaviour independently. In the case study chapters, we focused on the most long-standing constitutions in the countries in question. However, there were plenty of examples in the immediate post-independence years when constitutions were drawn up very hurriedly. True, some
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