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Public Institutional Theory

Institutional Theory
×            The organization and management of contained and bounded public institutions, now generally comprehended by institutional theory.
×            Institutions include states and other governmental jurisdictions and subjurisdictions, parliaments, bureaucracies, shadow and contract bureaucracies, nongovernmental organizations, universities, and corporations or private companies having clear and distinct public purpose.
×            The “big tent theory of institutions”

The Basic Idea
×            Institutionalism could be said to account for how institutions behave and how they perform.
×            Institutionalism sees organizations as bounded social constructs of rules, roles, norms, and the expectations that constrain individual and group choices and behavior.
×            Institutionalism also includes core ideas about contemporary public administration: results, performance, outcomes, and purposefulness.
×            Institutionalism is not limited to formal governmental organizations, also concerns the full-range of “third sector” organization and fully recognizes the fuzzy distinctions between public and private institutions.
From Organizations to Institutions
×            Organizations in the private sector are not ordinarily thought of as institutions. Institutions that are also organizations, found primarily in the public sector.
×            Organization theory: emphasis on formal structure and management
×            Institutional theory: emphasis on patterns of collective behavior exogenous to the formal organization, and patterns of interaction between institutions and their broader social economic, and political contexts
×            Hierarchy is usually thought to be something that needs to be replaced with better forms of organizing.
×            The explanation of the persistence and no other alternatives is ,first, that work is organized by task, and tasks are increasingly complex and tend to separate into discrete categories of increasing complexity; and, second, the mental work of management increases in complexity and also separate into discrete categories.
Alternatives to Hierarchy
Transaction cost analysis; information asymmetry; principal agent theory; models of rational choice.
High-Reliable Systems
×            Features: tightly coupled physical technologies, fixed and rigid standard procedure, extensive and constant technological training, fund guarantee high efficiency, highly redundant, highly networked, high-functioning public-private partnership, error reporting is encouraged and not punished, hierarchical organization.
×            These failure-free systems reveal how remarkably effective modern public and private organizations can be if they have adequate resources and are well managed.
Comparing Institutional Forms
×            Scholars compared institutional and constitutional designs at the level of the nation-state. But national states are hard to compare. American cities are much easier to compare and they exhibit many of the same institutional design characteristics as national states.
×            The municipal reform movement was a remarkably success of institutional redesign for the purpose of changing the allocation of power and policy outcomes of American cities.
×            Reallocating power and changing institutional behavior was accomplished by changing the institutional rules and altering institutional roles.
System Fragmentation
×            Tiebout Thesis, an argument that multiple small jurisdictions in a metropolitan area aid market-like individual choice, competition, and public service both in separate jurisdictions and in entire metropolitan areas.
×            A systems fragmentation versus a consolidated systems argument
×            David Lowery’s critique of fragmentation theory: greater racial and income segregation; a spatial mismatch of need and fiscal capacity among poor and minorities and wealthy whites; policies that minimize sorting by race and income and maximize redistribution and generalized economic growth.
Garbage Cans and Rent Seeking
×            In the garbage cam one can finds order, but this order is neither sequential nor consequential and turns much of the rational logic of decision theory on its head.
×            Public problems in the garbage can seek solutions; at the same time, public institutions may be attracted to particular problems. Problems, solutions, can decisionmakers are temporal phenomena simultaneously available and can form a temporal order. “You often do not know what the public policy question is until you know the answer”. Rather than the answer to a particular public policy question, in the garbage can an appropriate answer is most likely
×            Rent can be thought as a surplus in a completely efficient public sector. While public sector institutions have to do with institutional structural factors that may be inefficient. Redistribution of goods and service can been used to seek the greatest social surplus.

The Diffusion of Innovation
×            Everett M. Rogers found that innovation or reforms spread in diffusions, which exhibit a common pattern: the S-curve.
×            Patterns of diffusion are explained by a series of attendant hypothesis:
The association between the presence of a perceived crisis and the propensity to adopt a change
The importance of the compatibility between the purposes of a change or reform and the dominant values in a social system
Spatial proximity is important in diffusion theory
The mass media play a crucial role in amplifying and editing the diffusion of collective action
Change agents are often the carriers of change, the agents of diffusions
Closely associated with the media and with diffusion change agents is the matter of fashion setting
Both individuals and institutions tend to change so as to acquire prestige, status and social standing


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