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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The idea of complementarity is of considerable use in studies of institutions, because if it can be correctly applied, it enables analysts to consider when and how certain institutions ‘belong’ together to form a Gestalt or overall shape, or, in contrast, to indicate when two or more institutions might be incompatible with each other. If it is possible to reach conclusions of this kind, not only is institutional analysis placed on a scientific basis, but it can also acquire relevance to policymakers and other institution builders. This article distinguishes between three different usages of the concept to be found in the literature, and analyses that literature as it falls within these different usages. The overall tendency of the argument is to advise caution in the use of complementarity in institutional research, though the concept is not rejected, as a distinct role will be found for it.

Keywords: complementarity, Gestalt, institutional analysis, policymakers, institution builders

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