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PPGPortal > Home > Concept Dictionary > N, O > New Institutionalism

New Institutionalism 

A framework for analyzing institutional behaviour based on rational choice theory and structural theory.

(Michael M. Atkinson. 1993)


New institutionalism is grounded in two interconnected intellectual movements. The first is rational choice theory, according to which institutions are negotiated rules that channel the behaviour of individuals whose preferences and beliefs are relatively stable. The second is structural theory, which places emphasis on the capacity of institutions as organizations to transform preferences and beliefs and by doing so, shape public policy. Where structural theorists see organizational capacity as the defining characteristic of institutions, rational choice theorists define institutions in terms of procedural rules that are capable of creating a predictable and stable set of policy outcomes.

Michael M. Atkinson. 1993. Governing Canada: Institutions and Public Policy. Toronto: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, pp. 26-27



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