163 research outputs found

    Allocation mechanisms, incentives, and endemic institutional externalities

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    Whether an economic agent’s decision creates an externality often depends on the institutional context in which the decision was made. Indeed, in orthodox economics, a technological or exogenous externality occurs just in case one agent’s economic welfare or production possibilities are directly affected by the market decisions of other agents. A pecuniary externality occurs just in case one consumer’s economic welfare or producer’s profit is affected indirectly by price changes caused by changes in other agents’ decisions. Similarly, an institutional or endogenous externality may arise whenever allocations are determined by a mechanism that is not strategy proof for some agent. Then even a resource balance constraint creates an institutional externality except in special cases such as when no individual agent’s action can affect market clearing prices — i.e., there are no pecuniary externalities

    Explaining Institutional Change: Why Elected Politicians Implement Direct Democracy

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    In existing models of direct democratic institutions, the median voter benefits, but representative politicians are harmed since their policy choices can be overridden. This is a puzzle, since representative politicians were instrumental in creating these institutions. I build a model of direct democracy that explains why a representative might benefit from tying his or her own hands in this way. The key features are (1) that voters are uncertain about their representative's preferences; (2) that direct and representative elections are complementary ways for voters to control outcomes. The model shows that some politicians benefit from the introduction of direct democracy, since they are more likely to survive representative elections: direct democracy credibly prevents politicians from realising extreme outcomes. Historical evidence from the introduction of the initiative, referendum and recall in America broadly supports the theory, which also explains two empirical results that have puzzled scholars: legislators are trusted less, but reelected more, in US states with direct democracy. I conclude by discussing the potential for incomplete information and signaling models to improve our understanding of institutional change more generally

    The theory of the firm and its critics: a stocktaking and assessment

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    Includes bibliographical references."Prepared for Jean-Michel Glachant and Eric Brousseau, eds. New Institutional Economics: A Textbook, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.""This version: August 22, 2005."Since its emergence in the 1970s the modern economic or Coasian theory of the firm has been discussed and challenged by sociologists, heterodox economists, management scholars, and other critics. This chapter reviews and assesses these critiques, focusing on behavioral issues (bounded rationality and motivation), process (including path dependence and the selection argument), entrepreneurship, and the challenge from knowledge-based theories of the firm