Institutional Analysis with the Grammar of Institutions

2019, Policy Studies Journal, with Saba Siddiki, Tanya Heikkila, Chris Weible, Raul Pachego-Vega, Cali Curley, Aaron Deslatte, & Abby Bennett

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Institutions are strategies, norms, and rules embodied in public policies and/or social conventions. They reflect and establish expectations about who can do what, where, and how, and are often employed for resolving collective action dilemmas and other kinds of governance challenges. Given their salience, social science scholars have dedicated substantial effort to developing analytical approaches for understanding the design, function, and performance of institutions. Particularly valuable are approaches that generalize across institutional types and are versatile enough to be paired with multiple concepts, theories, and methods. This paper focuses on one such approach, called the Institutional Grammar. The Institutional Grammar is an approach for assessing the structure and content of institutions. It received limited attention immediately following its introduction. In recent years, however, numerous journal articles have been published that highlight the promise of the Institutional Grammar for supporting rigorous analyses of institutional design and associated outcomes within the context of various theoretical, conceptual, and methodological approaches. This article (i) reintroduces parts of the Institutional Grammar; (ii) summarizes the theoretical, methodological, and empirical foci of all journal articles published to date that address it; and (iii) presents an agenda for advancing the study of institutions using the Institutional Grammar.