A Critical Institutionalist Reconciliation of "Contradictory" Institutionalist Institutions: What Is an Institution?

Tauheed, Linwood F.
March 2013
Journal of Economic Issues (M.E. Sharpe Inc.);Mar2013, Vol. 47 Issue 1, p147
Academic Journal
Original institutional economics (OIE) has three significant, but apparently contradictory, definitions of institution(s) stemming from Thorstein Veblen, John Commons, and J. Fagg Foster. In this first installment of a two-part paper I address this apparent contradiction by developing an "irenic reconciliation" of these definitions using a methodological approach I call "critical institutionalism"- a synthesis of the OIE in the tradition of the Veblen, Commons, and Foster, the pragmatism theory of Charles Sanders Peirce and John Dewey, the critical realist methodology of Margaret Archer, and the critical realism of Roy Bhaskar. In so doing, I provide an alternative discussion to that of some current institutionalists who propose to replace the existing OIE definitions of institution(s) with "consensual definitions" developed in the discourse with non-OIE traditions. I propose that there is still considerable analytical value in the OIE definitions, and that replacing them with non-OIE-originating concepts would unnecessarily carry OIE away from its methodological and philosophical roots. In the second installment of this paper (yet to be published), I proceed to demonstrate the analytical value these "reconciled" definitions have for the OIE project.


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