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date: 24 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In the analysis of path-dependent institutions, the concept of critical juncture refers to situations of uncertainty in which decisions of important actors are causally decisive for the selection of one path of institutional development over other possible paths. The chapter parses the potentialities and the limitations of the concept in comparative-historical analysis, and proposes analytical tools for the comparative analysis of the smaller-scale and temporally proximate causes that shape decision-making on institutional innovation during critical junctures. In particular, the chapter discusses several patterns of short-term politics of institutional formation --innovative coalition-building for reform; “out-of-winset” outcomes; ideational battles; and near-missed institutional change—that can have a long-term impact on the development of policies and institutions.

Keywords: critical juncture, punctuated equilibrium, contingency, institutional change, political agency

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