A Call for Institutional Analysis
Practicing polycentric political economy in policy research
Originally published in The Review of Austrian Economics
In Public Governance and the Classical Liberal Perspective, Aligica et al. (2019) highlight the importance of conducting institutional analysis and experimentation as a means toward robust, adaptable polycentric governance. For policy researchers, engaging in the practice of polycentric political economy means analyzing the role of alternative governance mechanisms at the constitutional, policy, and operational levels of social interaction. In order to demonstrate how policymakers can engage in institutional analysis at each level, we examine the case study of state regulatory reform. We find that the pursuit of marginal improvements within an existing governance framework can contribute to institutional reform if researchers are focused on long-run institutional change. This requires looking at policy research as part of a process aimed at institutional experimentation and the reimagination of governance frameworks within a polycentric environment where researchers engage in coproduction of an adaptive and sustainable governance system.