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New Institutional Approaches to the Study of Political Executives

Klaus H. Goetz (2020) "New Institutional Approaches to the Study of Political Executives", in Rudy B. Andeweg et al. (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Political Executives (Oxford: OUP), pp. 45-65.


The New Institutionalism—NI—has had a pervasive influence on the study of political executives over the past three decades. It draws attention to the interactions between institutions, organizations, actors, interests, preferences, ideas, resources, and decisions. As such, it captures executives as both institutions and organizations and as political governments and administrations. NI’s strong orientation towards understanding the horizontal and vertical interconnectedness of institutions and organizations makes is very well-suited to analysing Europe’s multi-level executive system. Key NI insights to the study of political executives include the interdependency between formal and informal institutional-organizational settings; the importance of resources; the porosity of institutional-organizational boundaries; the diversity of actors’ motivations; and the relevance of legacies for explaining executive developmental trajectories and executive effects. However, ‘unruly actors’ and political and policy ‘turbulence’ pose analytical challenges to core theoretical assumptions of the NI.

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