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iGov-Institutions and Governance Program at the Institute of International Studies promotes interdisciplinary research and education on the origins, effects, and evolution of institutions. The goal of the Program is to advance our understanding of the ways that institutions shape economic and political outcomes as well as the ways that political and economic factors shape institutions.
iGov also supports work in three broad areas:
Politics and Policy in Weakly Institutionalized Environments: In weakly institutionalized environments, actors cannot appeal to higher institutional authorities to enforce agreements. Consequently, the parties to an agreement must try to enforce it themselves. This may be very costly and may make it difficult for the parties to credibly commit themselves to following through on an agreement. Examples of weakly institutionalized environments include the international system as well as the domestic politics within developing countries in which the rule of law is weak.
Politics and Policy in Highly Institutionalized Environments: In highly institutionalized settings, institutions constrain actors' behavior and do much to define the strategic area in which the actors interact. These environments include states in which the rule of law is strong. Work in this area tries to understand how different institutional arrangements (e.g., presidential or parliamentary, proportional representation or majoritarian, federal or unitary, central bank independence) affect policy outcomes. Comparative institutional analysis is an important research activity at the Center.
The Interface between Weakly and Highly Institutionalized Environments: The last half century has seen an astonishing effort among European states to institutionalize the weakly institutionalized environment in which they interact. The European Union is at the interface of weakly and highly institutionalized environments. Countries trying to establish the rule of law among competing domestic factions are also at this interface. The Center sponsors research that deepens our understanding of institutionalization, of how institutions take hold, begin to shape behavior, are shaped by that behavior, and may transform weakly institutionalized settings into more highly institutionalized environments.