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Improving the Micro-Foundations of Actor-Centered Institutionalism


Julien Etienne


London School of Economics & Political Science

Gerhard Schnyder


King's College London; Centre for Business Research

May 1, 2010


Abstract:     
Institutionalist scholarship in political science has increasingly underscored the importance of agency in processes of institutional reproduction and change. This increasing “actor-centeredness” has so far not led to the development of a coherent theory of individual action that enables us to explain processes whereby shifts in logics of action occur and contribute to broader institutional processes. In this paper we present Goal Framing Theory (GFT) as a powerful theoretical tool in order to cover this gap. GFT provides a theory of goal-oriented action that explains not only how various logics of action coexist at the individual level, but also how they interact to influence actors’ behavior. Based on two empirical examples – patient capital in France and Germany, and foreign ownership of corporate stocks in Switzerland –, we show that GFT has the potential to provide a behavioral foundation for processes of institutional reproduction and change that are the result of shifts of logics of action.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 36

Keywords: Historical institutionalism, purposive action theory, political economy, institutional change

JEL Classification: P16

working papers series


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Date posted: May 8, 2010 ; Last revised: December 12, 2011

Suggested Citation

Etienne, Julien and Schnyder, Gerhard, Improving the Micro-Foundations of Actor-Centered Institutionalism (May 1, 2010). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1600067 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1600067

Contact Information

Julien Etienne
London School of Economics & Political Science ( email )
Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
Gerhard Schnyder (Contact Author)
King's College London ( email )
150 Stamford Street
London, SE1 9NN
United Kingdom
++44 (0)20 7848 4633 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/sspp/mgmt/people/academic/schnyder/
Centre for Business Research ( email )
University of Cambridge
Judge Business School Building
Cambridge, CB2 1AG
United Kingdom
++44 (0)1223 765325 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.cbr.cam.ac.uk/people/Schnyder.htm
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