Political Science | Empirical Theory & Methods
Y673 | 12616 | --
Institutional Analysis & Development: Micro
This class meets at 513 N. Park
firstname.lastname@example.org, Woodburn Hall 307
Class - Tuesdays, 3:30-5:30 p.m., 513 North Park Avenue
This class focuses on institutions – the impact of structure, rules,
and procedures on behavior and outcomes in group interactions, and
on the process of institution selection. The aim is to illustrate
general principles about the characteristics, selection, and
operation of institutions, both inside and outside government, with
a strong emphasis on explaining the behavior of flesh-and-blood
people in the real world.
The premise of the class is that an understanding of institutions is
fundamental to explaining group behavior, and that the best way to
do this is to combine theory with empirics. Theory without data
risks irrelevancy; empirics without theory lapses into story-
telling. The goal is to develop general, empirically-verified
statements about how groups organize themselves – only then will
scholars have anything to say to practitioners or participants.
While normative concerns may motivate our research, or serve as a
yardstick for evaluation, they cannot serve as a foundation for
describing or understanding real-world behavior.
The class is also intended as an introduction to the research
program at the Workshop in Political Theory, and in particular the
IAD (Institutional Analysis and Design) paradigm. Over the last
generation, Workshop-affiliated scholars have developed a number of
important theoretic tools and have, moreover, gathered a plethora of
data on real-world institutions, most notably self-governance
institutions. The readings will introduce you to this literature,
highlighting both its insights and its limitations.
There is one book required for this class: Ostrom, Elinor. 2005.
Understanding Institutional Diversity. Princeton, Princeton
University Press. It will be distributed on the first day of
class. The syllabus also contains many articles and papers. Those
that are not available on JSTOR or a similar on-line class will be
distributed in advance.
Students taking the class for credit are responsible for the
1. Regular class attendance, with all readings completed and
ready for discussion.
2. Meaningful class participation.
3. A weekly one-page memo, on a topic distributed in advance.
These papers are to be submitted electronically, and will be posted
on a listserv.
A research paper that will be presented at the Workshop’s mini-
conference, to be held in mid-December. This paper can be co-
submitted with another class, and can be co-authored.