Structure, agency and the role of values in processes of institutional change

Wilfred Dolfsma*, Rudi Verburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Research on institutional change has flourished ever since the debate on agency and structure has moved away from the previously uncompromising positions in which either agency or structure was emphasized. A conceptual compromise is sought here in a focus on the processes of institutionalization, which allows one to move beyond the idea that institutions are mere mental constructs or the point of view that behavior is the mere reproduction of institutional patterns. Contributing to an understanding of the processes of institutional change, this paper analyzes institutional change as instigated by tensions, triggered by agents' discrepancies between concrete institutional settings and the socio-economic values these are to represent. The Social Value Nexus that is presented introduces an emphasis on the perceived legitimacy of institutions. Describing (types of) tensions between socio-cultural values and institutional settings, the paper explores how structure, agency and values interact in processes of institutional change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1031-1054
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Economic Issues
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Institutional change
  • Legitimation
  • Socio-cultural values
  • Structure and agency

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