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Institutional Design for Collective Action: Tweaking the Rules of the Game for the Common Good

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image of Comparative Sociology
For content published from 1960-2001, see International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

Abstract At present, institutional design is an under-theorized and underdeveloped part of the social sciences. In this paper I focus on designs for situations of collective action where the outcome is controlled by the choices of several self-interested actors. In those situations the goal of institutional design is to alter the rules of the game so that self-interested actors find it rational to cooperate. I explore the viability of that definition by considering two examples of institutional design: urban safety and academic peer review. I discuss the implications of my findings for our conception of rational self-interest and propose that three design principles – publicity, boundaries, and contiguity – can be inferred from the analysis.

Affiliations: 1: School of Education, University at Albany, State University of New York ED 316, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12222 USA


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