Colin Crouch

in The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Institutional Analysis

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199233762
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management


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The idea of complementarity is of considerable use in studies of institutions, because if it can be correctly applied, it enables analysts to consider when and how certain institutions ‘belong’ together to form a Gestalt or overall shape, or, in contrast, to indicate when two or more institutions might be incompatible with each other. If it is possible to reach conclusions of this kind, not only is institutional analysis placed on a scientific basis, but it can also acquire relevance to policymakers and other institution builders. This article distinguishes between three different usages of the concept to be found in the literature, and analyses that literature as it falls within these different usages. The overall tendency of the argument is to advise caution in the use of complementarity in institutional research, though the concept is not rejected, as a distinct role will be found for it.

Keywords: complementarity; Gestalt; institutional analysis; policymakers; institution builders

Article.  10239 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour

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