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Core Course: State of the Art - Public Institutions


What are institutions, and how are they different from other social phenomena? What effects do institutions have on the behaviour of actors? How can institutions overcome collective action problems? Can institutions change the preferences of social actors? How do institutions change and when do they remain stable? Is rapid institutional change possible, and under what conditions?

These are some of the questions which we are going to discuss during the sessions of this course. Institutional analysis, in its various forms, is the bedrock of contemporary research in public administration and much of the social sciences. This course will deal with recent theoretical developments in institutionalist theories, with an emphasis on the application of institutionalist theories in public administration research and analysis. We will address institutional development, stability and change. The course will provide an overview of the contributions and shortcomings of institutional analysis to understanding governance and public life in general.

The objectives of this course are:

  • To offer a theoretical and empirical overview of the multiple effects institutions exert

  • To offer examples of empirical analyses based on institutionalist theories

  • To help students increase their understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of different institutional approaches (historical, rational choice and normative institutionalisms)

  • To provide discussion of processes of institutional design and change

  • To provide the skills to apply institutional reasoning to the analysis of real-world problems and especially questions relevant to public administration and public policy.

Dr. Dimiter Toshkov
Dr. Antoaneta Dimitrova

Various articles and chapters to be posted on blackboard.

Methods of Instruction
Lectures, team tasks and group discussions.

The grade will be based on active participation and teamwork and several assignments.

Method of work
The course will alternate lectures with group discussions and team tasks. The Blackboard learning environment would be used intensively to supplement in class discussions.

Lectures Thursday 9/9 – 21/10
Time 10-13 in SC01

This schedule is subject to change.

Latest update: Sept, 2010