Synthetic Institutionalism (in under 3 min) A guest blog from one of our Gaianomy members

When it comes to institutional analysis, there are three schools of thought, sociological institutionalism, rational-choice institutionalism, and historical institutionalism. (J. Mahoney and K.  Thelen 2010 & Hall and Taylor 1996), all of which “compete” in academic literature trying to explain institutional evolution and change.

I went through all of them over the last five years while developing my theory and to my amazement; they turn at the end all to be right to a large degree, despite the discourse.

The part that was missing, I believe, thus far was the use of the right type of maths (and not statistics).  The approach I used adds this component. However, this is only half of the story because, in order for all three to be simultaneously right, they should be interrelated pieces of a bigger puzzle (my theory). Consequently allowing myself a dose of arrogance, I will claim that I managed to unify the three theories into one. Provided I am not, just another mislead arrogant but the actual founder of this theory, (knowledge of all published papers globally is practically impossible) I would like to call it Synthetic.

Now to the point…institutions are social structures. By being a part of the overall social system, they obey its rules. That means that behaviourally wise, they can be analysed using the complex adaptive systems theories.  To my knowledge, this is the first attempt to follow this profound otherwise thought-path.

Practically all of them (the institutions) evolved in the beginning under the influence of primeval instincts. Over time, the most resilient of these institutions, evolved into “axiomatic” sub-structures or institutional components, while all other combinations dissolve.

The fashion according to which this happened can, simplistically, be presented as:

At the same time we know that social structures according to the complex systems theory ought to be synthesised by smaller components (hence the complex). In this case, the components are none else but the axiomatic sub-structures connected together in various ways and over several generations of evolutionary synthesis to, eventually, create the complex institutions we recognise today.

In addition we know as well that these components the sub-structures, genealogically speaking, are themselves institutions as they affect behaviour. The way they synthesise, across all their evolutionary stages, obeys the complex adaptive systems rules with the links between them being of variable strength.

Based on the two above principals we can easily conclude that: simpler institutions assemble into complex ones by linking between them in fractal ways and this is the founding principal behind synthetic institutionalism.

Interestingly, due their social origin, the links that hold the sub-structures together can be nothing else but institutionalised mental associations (Occam’s razor). It goes beyond saying that the stronger these associations are the more resilient the construct, which by the way offers an answer to the “structure and agency” perceived complex relation uncertainty of the current theories.

Change (evolution or devolution) of these structures (the centre point of the discourse so far),  occurs in three different ways: (a) by adding one more institution (sub-structure) in an already existing one (i.e. “googling” an addition to “research”) and which by the way explains emergence, (b) by changing the nature of one of the constituting sub-structures (i.e. post-digital “photography”) or (c) by eliminating one of sub-structures all together (i.e. hunter-gathering from “economy”). For this last one of course to happen, the link(s) holding it in place should be weak enough, at that moment in time.

So, there you have it. Instincts make institutions, which drive behaviours, which create more institutions, which synthesise by means on mental associations (of the actors) into new  more complex ones,  the constant (gradual or radical) change of which contributed in us all having an interesting life… and from now on, the mathematicians and institutional analysts happiness.

My Apologies to two of my favourite scholars, Colin Hay and Daniel Wincott that so passionately thus far argued the case against synthetic institutionalism.

Next time if your problem is Unemployment or Corruption or the Markets or even Economy and you want to change it forget the politicians and call one of us …. to be continued.

Sotiris Melioumis Organisational Analyst


One Comment to “Synthetic Institutionalism (in under 3 min) A guest blog from one of our Gaianomy members”

  1. Τα θερμά μου συγχαρητήρια. ελπίζω να μου δοθεί χρόνος να σχολιάσω τα πολύ χρήσιμα ευρήματα σας στο συστημικό επίπεδο. Προέχει ομως κατι αλλο : Στις 27 Ιανουαρίου και ωρα 11:07, προσπάθησα να στείλω σχόλιο στην Δημόσια Διαβούλευση που συμμετείχατε και απο την οποία σας εντόπισα, μονο για να μου εμφανιστεί εκπρόθεσμη ώρα αποστολής 00:26, κατι που διαπίστευσα στο βαθμό του δυνατού και ζητώ τώρα απο το υπεύθυνο οργανισμό ( Εθνικό Κέντρο Δημόσιας Διοίκησης και Αυτοδιοίκησης ) να δημοσιευτεί. Το τελευταίο σας σχόλιο στην ιδια Διαβούλευση ( κτηριακή υποδομή ) εμφανίζει ωρα Ελλάδος 23:53. Μήπως θυμάστε τι ώρα Αγγλίας το στείλατε ? Εαν ναί, η μαρτυρία σας θα βοηθούσε πολύ στο συγκεκριμένο αλλα και στην λειτουργία ενος Θεσμού που για πρώτη φορά στην Ελλάδα επιτρέπει στον πολίτη να σχολιάζει τις νομοθετικές προθέσεις της κυβέρνησης του. Μετα τιμής, Στέφανος Χ.Σαμακάς

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