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date: 28 May 2017

Abstract and Keywords

A distinguishing feature of comparative institutional analysis is the emphasis on understanding actors and actor constellations. Institutional analysis is concerned with processes of isomorphism and explaining similarities among organizations within an institutional field. This article briefly examines the relation between actors and institutions in economics, political science, and sociology. It demonstrates certain points of agreement – actors and institutions are seen as being mutually constitutive of one another. One implication is the need to adopt a more historical and process-oriented approach to studying institutions. The article explores the non-identical nature of actors in greater detail. It also raises the broader issue of how institutions influence action itself. Given the mutual interdependence of actors and institutions, institutionalization may be seen as a matter of degree. Actors respond to institutions as one element within a situation, but institutional contexts never fully determine action.

Keywords: institutional analysis, actors, isomorphism, institutions, economics, political science, sociology

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