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Seeing institutions in different ways
Seeing institutions in different ways

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Seeing institutions in different ways


The central focus of development studies is how social and economic change can be achieved successfully. Critical to this success is institutional development, as it is through developments in institutions that development in the policies that drive change can be achieved. However, institutions are rich and complex phenomena, and institutional development is a rich and complex process. It is therefore possible and necessary to look at institutions from different angles and see them in different ways. This free course encourages you to do exactly that, in order to establish a base from which to think about institutional development.

This course presents you with three widely accepted ways of seeing institutions:

  1. Institutions as rules and norms: We will look at the differences between institutions and organisations, and how they relate to each other. The course also suggests that, if institutions are seen as rules governing social life, then it seems appropriate to view institutional development as a matter of changing the rules.
  2. Institutions as meanings and values: This course suggests that resistance to change can be seen as arising when and because that change has no meaning for people who are expected to accept it, or it offends their deeply-held values. Resistance thus generated can be particularly powerful and effective because so much is at stake.
  3. Institutions as big players: This course draws attention to the centrality of power and power relationships in institutional development, and shows how institutional development involves power struggles.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course TU872 Institutional development: Conflicts, values and meanings [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .