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Journal of Bioeconomics

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 53–60 | Cite as

Do institutions evolve?

  • Avner GreifEmail author
Article

Elinor Ostrom subscribes to the view that institutions are the rules-of-the-game within which actors strategically choose actions. Specifically, she defines institutions as rules of behavior that specify expected, permissible, and forbidden behavior together with the sanctions that follow “if forbidden actions are taken” (p. 11). Although institutionalized rules are designed, limited cognition implies that they evolve as unexpected events reveal their inefficacy.

Ostrom thus conjectures that institutional evolution is similar to biological evolution in the sense that diversity and experimentation leads to progressively more effective institutions. One policy implication of this argument, she noted, is that it is best to leave rural collective action institutions free of governmental intervention so that evolution will take its course. In the absence of governmental intervention, progressively better rules will emerge and proliferate.

There is no doubt that institutional design reflects...

Keywords

Biological Evolution Institutional Change Institutional Evolution Historical Process Mutation Process 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.CIFARTorontoCanada

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