Strategies and public propositions in games of institutional change: Comparative historical cases

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Journal of Comparative Economics, ISSN: 0147-5967, Vol: 45, Issue: 1, Page: 171-187

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Masahiko Aoki
Elsevier BV
Economics, Econometrics and Finance
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article description
This paper argues that the game-theoretic approach is incomplete for institutional studies, because comparative institutions as well as institutional changes involve the possibility of multiple equilibria. In order to solve the common knowledge problem, this paper proposes to unify game theoretic thought with an analysis of public representations/propositions to summarize salient features of the recursive/emergent states of play. From this perspective the paper tries to reconcile differences in three accounts of institutions: endogenous outcome, exogenous rules and constitutive rules accounts. Then, the unified approach is applied to comparative and historical cases of Tokugawa Japan and Qing China. Specifically it sheds new light into the coalitional nature of the Tokugawa Baku-Han regime nesting the fundamental Samurai-village pact as well as the tendency toward decentralization of political violence and fiscal competence to the provincial level toward the end of Qing China. From these new historical interpretations, endogenous strategic forces and associated public propositions leading to institutional changes through the Meiji Restoration and the Xinhai Revolution are identified and compared.