Studies in Comparative International Development

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 109–131

Understanding institutional change: Fast-moving and slow-moving institutions

  • Gérard Roland

DOI: 10.1007/BF02686330

Cite this article as:
Roland, G. St Comp Int Dev (2004) 38: 109. doi:10.1007/BF02686330


This article proposes a classification of ‘slow-moving” and “fast-moving” institutions, and discusses the potential results of their interaction. A prime example of a slow-moving institution is culture, including values, beliefs, and social norms, which tend to change gradually. Political institutions are typically fast-moving institutions; exemplifying the nature of this category, political institutions do not necessarily change often but can change very quickly—sometimes nearly overnight. The interaction between slow-moving and fast-moving institutions can shed light on institutional change (why, how, and when it occurs), and evinces both the difficulty of transplanting institutions into different cultural contexts and the advantages of diverse institutional “blueprints” for efficient growth and development.

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© Springer 2004

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  • Gérard Roland

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