Institutional Failure

  • Farhad Gohardani
  • Zahra Tizro
Part of the Political Economy of Islam book series (PEoI)


In the last 200 years, Iran has been suffering from what Akhavi (1998: 696) calls “the paradox of institutionalization failure”. The evolutionary theorization of institutions demonstrates that institutions emerge, they are not designed (Popper 1961). They are the products of evolutionary process of chaotic synchronization and not the products of intelligent design. Even when there is an element of conscious design involved in their construction, the consciousness itself is the emergent product of the cultural evolution of the regimes of truth alongside the fact that the interaction between the conscious and unconscious decisions and actions of multiple agents give rise to the emergence of institutions (as such institutions are embedded, incommensurable, and emergent phenomena). North (1990, 2005) attests that institutions make life predictable and stable as they establish the rules of the game in different realms of work, life, and language. Institutions such as constitution, money, language, market, court, family, state, and church—as Hayek (1988) alongside Sugden (1989) and Heiner (1989) theorizes them—are the spontaneous and unintended products of cultural evolutionary processes. In effect, in the context of development, we face two types of institutional changes in the social order, the engineered ones versus the evolutionary ones. Pioneering countries and peoples benefit from the first-mover advantage and sleepwalk into the new institutions through the evolutionary process of blind watchmaking via the work of “vanishing mediators” (Jameson 1988: 25) or “piecemeal tinkering” (Popper 1961: 61), while the belated societies are forced to build the new institutions required to fill the development gap through intelligent design (largely through a ‘copy-paste’ process from the pioneering nations).


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Farhad Gohardani
    • 1
  • Zahra Tizro
    • 2
  1. 1.Independent EconomistYorkUK
  2. 2.University of East London (UEL)LondonUK

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