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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Historical institutionalism (HI) has traditionally focused on formal institutions designed and enforced by official entities in advanced industrial democracies. Yet the modalities of endogenous institutional change delineated by HI reveal that the causal mechanisms of institutional transformation are typically informal. This chapter proposes a more inclusive ontology of institutions that views institutions as a single two-dimensional Möbius strip with both formal and informal components—regardless of regime type or level of economic development. Focusing on “adaptive informal institutions” that arise in a multi-tiered institutional context can show how informal institutions compromise, subvert, and even facilitate reforms of formal institutions.

Keywords: adaptive informal institutions, institutional change, Möbius strip, institutional syncretism

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