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Institutions, Governance and Development


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor and tutor: Luca Andriani
  • Assessment: a three-hour examination (100%)

Module description

There has been an increasing debate among scholars, policy makers and practitioners discussing that markets are far from being perfect as they are affected by economic distortions, inefficient allocation of resources, public management failures and, more broadly, economic inequality and social injustice. Within this debate there is a general consensus on the fact that individuals’ well-being and prosperity as well as business development are conditional to the quality of institutions that regulate social and economic exchanges. Effective governance lays on systems of rules set by public authorities and organisations aiming to promote economic and social development, effective management of public resources and to regulate the relationship between the authorities and their citizens based on mutual trustworthy and accountability. However, if public institutions are perceived by individuals and business as unaccountable, untrustworthy and believed to be run by leaders mainly pursuing their personal interests at the cost of the entire society, then, good governance is at risk and, consequently, human development and economic prosperity. In this module we will address the aforementioned aspects of this debate. We will analyse different institutional traits, formal rules as well as social norms and values, affecting the governance of the state-citizens relationship. The module will offer an overview of some key concepts including institutions, governance, corruption, accountability, trust and development and will analyse the relational mechanisms inter-linking these concepts in an organic and critical perspective. For instance, we will look at the factors that undermine citizens’ trust towards public authorities and the consequent economic, social and development implications. Particular attention will be devoted to the social, economic and political costs of corruption and other forms of rent-seeking behaviours. We will look at the literature on individuals’ conformity and compliance to rules (broadly defined as social norms), and critically analyse the reasons why institutional designs fail to contain such behaviours. We will look at the role that cultural values and community governance play in shaping the state-citizens relationship, particularly in contexts, such as developing and emerging economies, lacking good quality institutions. We will also analyse the relational mechanisms inter-connecting trust, corruption and governance. 

The approach adopted in this module is highly multidisciplinary as this study area brings together research and expertise on institutional studies, political economy, political psychology and cross-cultural social psychology.

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will have:

  • familiarised yourself with the overarching theoretical framework of institutional theories and public and community governance
  • used public opinion surveys to critically and systematically analyse individuals’ attitudes towards corruption, tax evasion and other form of rent-seeking behaviours
  • developed a critical thinking on the role that trust and social norms play in the state-citizens relationship in different cultural and economic contexts
  • familiarised yourself with aspects of corruption and other forms of rent-seeking behaviours within different institutional and socio-cultural contexts from a broad and interdisciplinary perspective
  • used basic game theoretical approaches to solve strategic games of individuals’ cooperation and trust behaviour
  • developed critical thinking on the relational mechanisms interconnecting trust, corruption and governance in developing and emerging economies.