Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Vivien A. Schmidt
Institutional theory has been grappling with one major problem: how to explain the dynamics of change in institutions. Scholars in the three longstanding “new institutionalisms”—(1) rational choice institutionalism (RI), (2) historical institutionalism (HI), and (3) sociological institutionalism (SI)—have increasingly sought to “endogenize” change, that is, explain it “from the inside.” In response to criticisms that their analytic frameworks could account for continuity but not for change, which they explained mainly “from the outside,” as the result of exogenous shocks, these neo-institutionalists have increasingly sought to explain the origins of and shifts in interest-based preferences, historical paths, or cultural frames. Whereas many of these scholars have sought explanations using one or other of the two existing alternative approaches, others have turned instead to ideas and discourse. For some of these neoinstitutionalists, this was but a brief encounter, in particular for RI scholars, since taking ideas and discourse “seriously” undermined many of ...