The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Institutionalism, Old

  • Malcolm Rutherford
Reference work entry


What is now called ‘old’ institutional economics was a central part of a pluralistic American economics during the inter-war period. It is a tradition that still exists today but as a marginal heterodoxy to a dominant neoclassical mainstream. By the early 1920s it had established itself as an appealing programme with a major presence at leading universities and research institutes. Institutionalist work over the inter-war period included significant contributions to economic measurement and analysis. A number of factors led to the decline of institutional economics after the Second World War, but institutionalism has continued in a modified form, and still attracts adherents today.


Adams, H.C Administered pricing Ayres, C.E Business cycles Clark, J.M Collective bargaining Commons, J.R Conciliation and mediation Conspicuous consumption Cooley, C.H Dewey, J Ely, R.T Hamilton, W.H Hobson, J.A Household economics Household production Institutional economics Institutionalism, old Marginal utility theory Market failure Mitchell, W.C Monopoly National Bureau of Economic Research New Deal Overhead costs Perfect competition Planning Public utilities Public utility regulation Separation of ownership and control Social norms Underconsumptionism Veblen, T 

JEL Classification

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Ayres, C.E. 1944. The theory of economic progress, 2nd ed, 1962. New York: Schocken.Google Scholar
  2. Barber, W.J. 1996. Designs within disorder: Franklin D. Roosevelt, the economists, and the shaping of economic policy, 1933–1945. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blaug, M. 1978. Economic theory in retrospect, 3rd ed. London: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bonbright, J.C. 1961. Principles of public utility rates. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bromley, D.W. 1989. Economic interests and institutions: The conceptual foundations of public policy. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  6. Clark, J.M. 1917. Business acceleration and the law of demand: A technical factor in business cycles. Journal of Political Economy 25: 217–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Clark, J.M. 1918. Economics and modern psychology, I and II. Journal of Political Economy 26(1–30): 136–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Clark, J.M. 1919. Economic theory in an era of social readjustment. American Economic Review 9: 280–290.Google Scholar
  9. Clark, J.M. 1921. Soundings in non-Euclidean economics. American Economic Review 11: 132–143.Google Scholar
  10. Clark, J.M. 1923. Studies in the economics of overhead costs. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  11. Clark, J.M. 1926. Social control of business. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  12. Clark, J.M. 1927. Recent developments in economics. In Recent developments in the social sciences, ed. E.C. Hayes. Philadelphia: Lippencott.Google Scholar
  13. Commons, J.R. 1924. The legal foundations of capitalism. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1968.Google Scholar
  14. Commons, J.R. 1932. The problem of correlating law, economics and ethics. Wisconsin Law Review 8: 3–26.Google Scholar
  15. Commons, J.R. 1934. Institutional economics: Its place in political economy. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  16. Copeland, M.A. 1951. Institutional economics and model analysis. American Economic Review 41: 56–65.Google Scholar
  17. Edie, L.D. 1927. Some positive contributions of the institutional concept. Quarterly Journal of Economics 41: 405–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fried, B.H. 1998. The progressive assault on Laissez Faire: Robert Hale and the first law and economics movement. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Galbraith, J.K. 1958. The affluent society. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  20. Galbraith, J.K. 1971. The new industrial state, 2nd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  21. Gruchy, A.G. 1974. Government intervention and the social control of business: The neoinstitutionalist position. Journal of Economic Issues 8: 235–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hale, R.L. 1921. The “physical value” fallacy in rate cases. Yale Law Journal 30: 710–731.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hale, R.L. 1923. Coercion and distribution in a supposedly non-coercive state. Political Science Quarterly 38: 470–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hamilton, W.H. 1919. The institutional approach to economic theory. American Economic Review 9: 309–318.Google Scholar
  25. Hamilton, W.H., and S. May. 1923. The control of wages, 1968. New York: Augustus M. Kelley.Google Scholar
  26. Hamilton, W.H., and H.R. Wright. 1925. The case of bituminous coal. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  27. Hamilton, W.H. and Associates. 1938. Price and price policies. New York: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  28. Hodgson, G.M. 1988. Institutions and economics: A manifesto for a modern institutional economics. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  29. Hodgson, G.M. 2004. The evolution of institutional economics: Agency, structure and Darwinism in American institutionalism. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Koopmans, T.C. 1947. Measurement without theory. Review of Economic Statistics 29: 161–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kyrk, H. 1923. A theory of consumption. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  32. Kyrk, H. 1933. Economic problems of the family. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  33. Lewin, S. 1996. Economics and psychology: Lessons for our own day from the early twentieth century. Journal of Economic Literature 35: 1293–1323.Google Scholar
  34. McMahon, T. 1925. Social and economic standards of living. Boston: D.C. Heath.Google Scholar
  35. Means, G.C. 1935. Industrial prices and their relative inflexibility. Senate Document 13. In: 74th congress, 1st session. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  36. Mitchell, W.C. 1910a. The rationality of economic activity, I. Journal of Political Economy 18: 97–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mitchell, W.C. 1910b. The rationality of economic activity, II. Journal of Political Economy 18: 197–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mitchell, W.C. 1913. Business cycles. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  39. Mitchell, W.C. 1924. The prospects of economics. In The trend of economics, ed. R.G. Tugwell. Port Washington: Kennikat Press, 1971.Google Scholar
  40. Mitchell, W.C. 1925. Quantitative analysis in economic theory. American Economic Review 15: 1–12.Google Scholar
  41. Mitchell, W.C. 1927. Business cycles: The problem and its setting. New York: NBER.Google Scholar
  42. Morgan, M.S. and Rutherford, M. 1998. From interwar pluralism to postwar neoclassicism. Annual Supplement to vol. 30 of History of Political Economy, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Perlman, S. 1928. A theory of the labor movement. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  44. Rutherford, M. 1994. J.A. Hobson and American institutionalism: Underconsumption and technological change. In J.A. Hobson after fifty years, ed. J. Pheby. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  45. Rutherford, M. 1999. Institutionalism as ‘scientific’ economics. In From classical economics to the theory of the firm: Essays in honour of D.P. O’Brien, ed. R. Backhouse and J. Creedy. Aldershot: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  46. Rutherford, M. 2000a. Institutionalism between the wars. Journal of Economic Issues 34: 291–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rutherford, M. 2000b. Understanding institutional economics: 1918–1929. Journal of the History of Economic Thought 22: 277–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rutherford, M. 2001. Institutional economics: Then and now. Journal of Economic Perspectives 15: 173–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rutherford, M. 2002. Morris A. Copeland: A case study in the history of institutional economics. Journal of the History of Economic Thought 24: 261–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Rutherford, M. 2003. Walton Hamilton, Amherst, and the Brookings graduate school: Institutional economics and education. History of Political Economy 35: 611–653.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Rutherford, M. 2004. Institutional economics at Columbia University. History of Political Economy 36: 31–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Rutherford, M. 2005a. Who’s afraid of Arthur Burns? The NBER and the foundations. Journal of the History of Economic Thought 27:109–139Google Scholar
  53. Rutherford, M. 2005b. Walton H. Hamilton and the public control of business. In The role of government in the history of political economy, ed. S. Medema and P. Boettke. Supplement to volume 37, History of Political Economy. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Rutherford, M. 2006. Wisconsin institutionalism: John R. Commons and his students. Labor History 47: 161–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Rutherford, M. 2007. Chicago economics and institutionalism. In Elgar companion to Chicago economics, ed. R. Emmett. Aldershot: Edward Elgar (forthcoming).Google Scholar
  56. Samuels, W.J. 1971. The interrelations between legal and economic processes. Journal of Law and Economics 14: 435–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Schmid, A.A. 1978. Property, power, and public choice. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  58. Slichter, S.H. 1924. The organization and control of economic activity. In The trend of economics, ed. R.G.Tugwell. Port Washington: Kennikat Press, 1971.Google Scholar
  59. Slichter, S.H. 1931. Modern economic society. New York: H. Holt.Google Scholar
  60. Stewart, W.W. 1919. Economic theory: Discussion. American Economic Review 9: 319–320.Google Scholar
  61. Tugwell, R.G. 1921. The economic basis for business regulation. American Economic Review 11: 643–658.Google Scholar
  62. Tugwell, R.G. 1922. The economic basis of public interest. New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1968.Google Scholar
  63. Tugwell, R.G. 1924. The trend of economics. Port Washington: Kennikat Press, 1971.Google Scholar
  64. Veblen, T. 1898. Why is economics not an evolutionary science? In The place of science in modern civilisation. New York: Russell & Russell, 1961.Google Scholar
  65. Veblen, T. 1899. The theory of the leisure class, 1924. London: George Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  66. Veblen, T. 1904. The theory of business enterprise. Clifton: Augustus M. Kelley, 1975.Google Scholar
  67. Yonay, Y.P. 1998. The struggle over the soul of economics: Institutionalist and neoclassical economists in America between the wars. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malcolm Rutherford
    • 1
  1. 1.