Improving the Micro-Foundations of Actor-Centered Institutionalism
36 Pages Posted: 8 May 2010 Last revised: 12 Dec 2011
Date Written: May 1, 2010
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.
Keywords: Historical institutionalism, purposive action theory, political economy, institutional change
JEL Classification: P16
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