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Making Rules and Breaking Rules

GSSPS International and Interdisciplinary Seminars
28thMarch 2014, h: 14.30

Keynote speaker: Kenneth A. Shepsle (George Markham Professor of Government Methods and Formal Theory - Harvard University)

Room A - GSSPS
Via Pace 10, Milano

Douglass North is famous for, among other things, making institutions the centerpiece of studies of political economy. Institutions are, for him, the humanly constructed rules of the game, a game form in the language of game theory. An alternative conceptualization,associated with Schotter (1981) and Calvert (1985), and responsive to concerns articulated by Riker (1980), conceives of North’s game form as part of a more all-encompassing equilibrium of rational human behavior. Whereas North takes the rules of the game as exogenous and seeks to identify the equilibria that arise when agents, abiding by the rules, bring particular preferences to a situation, what Shepsle (1979) called a structure-induced equilibrium, Schotter and Calvert allow for the possibility of non-compliance with extant rules and, indeed, for moves that alter the game form altogether.
In the present talk, these two approaches are developed more fully. Examples drawn from the US Congress and elsewhere are used to exhibit the ways in which rules arise and change endogenously. Rational,  self-governing agents are not as restricted by exogenous constraints as in North’s formulation as to be unable to reformulate the ways they do their business.

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10 marzo 2014
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