Institutions and the Environment


Institutions and the Environment

9781847201218 Edward Elgar Publishing
Arild Vatn, Professor of Environmental Sciences, Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway
Publication Date: 2007 ISBN: 978 1 84720 121 8 Extent: 496 pp
This important text develops an institutional response to the core issues raised in public policy making and develops a distinct understanding of the role of institutions, not least in the study of environmental problems
Awarded the Veblen 150 Prize

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This important text develops an institutional response to the core issues raised in public policy making and develops a distinct understanding of the role of institutions, not least in the study of environmental problems. It questions: how are conflicting interests shaped and taken into account in policy making? How should they be accounted for? What motivates the behaviour of firms and individuals, and how is it possible to change these motivations to produce the favoured common outcomes?

The author addresses these questions by integrating elements from classical institutional economics, neoclassical economics, sociology and ecological economics. He argues that public policy in general, and environmental policy in particular, are best examined from an institutional perspective. In this way the author presents a distinct and consistent alternative to standard neoclassical economics for students and scholars who are interested in an institutional understanding of environmental policy making. The book is written in a clear and accessible style with boxes and figures to help explain the issues and, as such, would be an ideal alternative or supplement to the standard environmental economics texts.
Critical Acclaim
‘Vatn has prepared a vast feast for his readers. Hopefully, this book will become one of the core textbooks both in institutional economics and in resource economics. As a political scientist, I can recommend it to social scientists more generally. I must confess, I enjoyed it all.’
– Elinor Ostrom, 2009 Nobel Laureate, Land Economics

‘Institutions and the Environment indeed serves as a first-rate starting point for students and researchers regardless of whether they are mainly interested in institutions in general or environmental governance and ecological economics in particular.’
– Charlotta Söderberg, Environmental Politics

‘This timely book is about institutions: how they develop, how they function and how they solve problems. . . This book exemplifies the fine institutionalist tradition of using knowledge to solve pressing problems; in fact, institutionalists will find little here to criticize. The scope of this book is wide: policy makers, government officials, institutionalists, environmentalists and the general public will all benefit from reading this book. . . Keep this book handy: you’ll want to make frequent references as the global warming policy debate unfolds.’
– Jack Reardon, Journal of Economic Issues

‘Vatn’s book addresses the urgent question of environmental policy and shows that an understanding of the role of institutions is vital in this area. It incorporates insights on institutions from both mainstream and heterodox traditions of thought. Magisterial and comprehensive, it is both a textbook and an inspiring, pioneering monograph.’
– Geoffrey M. Hodgson, University of Hertfordshire, UK

‘This is an excellent book, which can be read at different levels. . . I very much enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in these issues. I feel it is likely to become one of the core text books on the topic.’
– Neil Powe, Newcastle University, UK

‘We have here an encompassing work of remarkable clarity and coherence demonstrating the enduring pertinence of classical institutional economics to the vexing issues of our time. While most of the illustrative examples come from the realm of environmental problems, the reach of this fine book goes far beyond this particular issue and informs how we ought to think about all aspects of public policy.’
– Daniel W. Bromley, University of Wisconsin, Madison, US

‘This is a superb book on institutional economics and environmental policy. Vatn has written the definitive exposition of the theory and policy approaches of modern institutional economics. It not only builds on the work of the best institutional economists, from Veblen to Bromley and Hodgson it also incorporates the extremely relevant and exciting research now being done in contemporary mainstream economics. With the demise of Walrasian economics and the current drive for the unification of the behavioral sciences, the time is ripe for institutional economics to once again become a dominant school of economic thought. Vatn’s book shows the way.’
– John Gowdy, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, US
Contents: Preface 1. Institutions: The Web of Human Life Part I: Understanding Institutions 2. Institutions: The Individual and the Society 3. Institutions: Coordination and Conflict 4. Institutional Economics: Different Positions Part II: From Institutions to Action 5. Rationality 6. Preferences and Values Part III: From Action to Institutions 7. Explaining Institutional Change 8. Evaluating Institutional Change: The Normative Aspect of Institutions Part IV: Institutions, Environment and Policy 9. The Environment 10. Resource Regimes 11. Valuing the Environment 12. Comparing Value Articulating Institutions 13. Policy and Policy Measures 14. Policies for a Sustainable Future References Index
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