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The Measuring of Institutions

Over the past decade, economic analysis has accorded growing importance to the institutionalist approach in the understanding of micro- or macroeconomic phenomena. Indeed, from Aoki and Durkheim to North, Commons or Hall and Soskice, the literature draws on a wide variety of theoretical frameworks in order to define institutions and characterise how they function within social systems, depending on the paradigms and methodologies used. But beyond this multiplicity of concepts and theoretical choices, critical analysis increasingly calls for a clarification of the empirical methods which would serve to describe these institutions and their dynamics (emergence, decline, adaptations, interconnections, etc.).

To this end, the Revue de la régulation (Capitalisme, Institutions, Pouvoirs) would like to devote a thematic issue to the question of how real institutions can be translated into empirical data aimed at grasping their characteristics and furthering applied research.

Measuring the quality and effects of regulation by means of indicators is a current practice in the field of labour economics. The measuring of certain institutions, whether political (democracy, administrative organisation, etc.) or legal (in areas such as legal or constitutional monitoring of the state, the courts, the independence of the judicial system) has recently been developed in macro-economics (Barro) or in the framework of New Comparative Economics (Djankov, La Porta, Lopez-de-Silanes, Shleifer). And other noteworthy questions about institutional conditions have been raised in development economics (from Rodrik to the New Political Economy) or by the variety-of-capitalisms approach.

This scientific context justifies a review of achievements to date concerning the methods and practices of measuring institutions. But the editorial committee is also interested in proposals for articles suggesting what institutionalist- or regulationist-inspired research can contribute as alternative constructions of institutional variables or tools for quantitative analysis (statistics, factor analysis, econometrics).

Submissions might, for example, address (but please note that there are no restrictions on empirical fields or topics):

  • available databases and their uses;

  • the influence of theoretical choices or technical constraints of modelling on the development of techniques for the measuring of institutions;

  • what regulation indicators actually measure?

  • the scope and limits of the measuring of institutions for purposes of international comparative analysis.

Proposals (300 words maximum) should be submitted before 15 June 2008 to the issue coordinators by e-mail (regulation AT The issue is scheduled for publication in 2009.

Coordinators :