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Public Institutions*



Institutional analysis, in its various forms, is increasingly prominent in contemporary research in public administration and much of the social sciences. There are a number of institutionalist approaches used in public administration today. These are some of the questions they aim to answer: 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. This course will deal with recent theoretical developments in institutionalist theories, with an emphasis on their application 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.

Course objectives

Upon completion of this course, students should have attained:

  • a broad understanding of the multiple effects institutions exert in public life,

  • an understanding of the differences and similarities of different institutional approaches,

  • an understanding of the type of collective action problems which institutions aim to resolve,

  • a skill to apply institutional reasoning to the analysis of real-world problems, especially to questions relevant to public administration and public policy.

Methods of Instruction

Three lectures and four seminar sessions

Study Material

Academic articles (specified on the Blackboard site at the start of the course)


Assessment: weekly assignments (5) and a take-home exam.
Research master students have an additional assignment!

You can register for an exam or retake through USIS until 10 days before the exam or retake.



Entrance Requirements