The Invisible Forces That Shape Interaction: A Formal Account of Institutions and Their Impact on Decision-Making.

Period 01-10-2018 to 01-10-2022
Type Predoctoral Fellowship
Promotor(s) Prof. Dr. Joke Meheus and Dr. Frederik Van De Putte
Funding agency Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)

When we go to work, we don't have to decide each time whether we will drive on the right or on the left because we have the rule of "driving on the right side of the road" in place. This rule helps us coordinate and transforms a suboptimal situation into one with more desirable characteristics, i.e. one where collisions are minimized. Rules such as these are known within the institutional literature as "institutions". They are things such as laws and contracts, but also things like customs, traditions, and rituals.

Institutions are studied by a variety of disciplines such as sociology, economy, law, political science, and philosophy which has resulted in different ways in which institutions are conceptualized. They are conceptualized as rules, but also as norms, and as equilibria. It is not always clear how to keep these conceptualizations apart and within the institutional literature in general, there is much confusion about what institutions are exactly and how they work.

My project consists in the development of formal logical tools to make different conceptualizations of institutions precise, thereby getting a better view on what these positions entail and, generally, developing a better understanding of what institutions are and how they shape interaction.