Informal and Formal Organization in New Institutional Economics
45 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2002
Exchanges are governed by a set of formal institutions (contracts, incentives, authority) and informal institutions (norms, routines, political processes) which are deeply intertwined. However, for the most part, informal institutions are treated as exogenous forces which change the benefits to using alternative formal structures, and formal institutions are treated as mere functional substitutes for informal elements governing exchanges. As a result, scholars have not sufficiently explored the interactions between formal and informal institutions. We contend that the failure to integrate these concepts into a common theory has led to faulty reasoning and incomplete theories of economic organizations. In this paper, we highlight three potential areas of research exploring the interplay between formal and informal institutions: first, whether formal institutions support (complement) or undermine (substitute for) the contributions of informal institutions; second, how vacillation in formal organizational modes allows managers to efficiently alter the trajectory of informal institutions; and third, how certain informal institutions can lead to hierarchical failure, thereby requiring managers to constrain the boundaries of the firm.
Keywords: organizational economics, formal and informal institutions, theory of the firm
JEL Classification: L2, L0, M1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation