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The competition and evolution of ideas in the public sphere: a new foundation for institutional theory

Brendan Markey-Towler

Journal of Institutional Economics, 2019, vol. 15, issue 1, 27-48

Abstract: This paper advances and defends the proposition that the basis for the evolution of institutions is the evolution and competition of ideas in the public sphere. This is based on a deeper proposition that institutions are ideas and ideas become institutions. We draw on the ‘Brisbane School’ of evolutionary/institutional economics and of behavioural/psychological economics to investigate the microdynamics of the competition of ideas in the public sphere, which has been studied at a macroscopic level by Isabel Almudi, Francisco Fatas-Villafranca and Jason Potts. The theory we develop gives us a new vision of institutional evolution as emerging from the microdynamics of the evolution and competition of ideas in the public sphere, and a new foundation for institutional theory. It gives us a new vision of the microdynamics of institutional evolution, the evolutionary fitness of ideas for competition in the public sphere and the likely path of institutional evolution.

Date: 2019
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