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The Problem of Power: Institutional Approach

The Problem of Power: Institutional Approach

Journal of Institutional Studies, , Vol. 8 (no. 3),

The authors of the paper discuss various reasons for power of one agent over another. These are status, the right to manage resources, force, monopoly, economic dependence, energy of a particular person. Examples of different types of power are given. The idea of interdependence and interpenetration of these types is explained. The main causes for emergence and stabilisation of various forms of dependence are analysed. It is shown that the widespread belief about the predominance of power of property in the market economy is based on a simplified model of market mechanisms.
Special attention is given to implicit forms of power, including hidden monopolies and voluntary economic dependence. Reasons for existence of hidden monopolies that lead to subordination of economic agents are highlighted. Situations when economic agents become subordinate after being tempted by current benefits of collaboration (the mousetrap effect) are analysed.
The historical development of power is examined. The authors come to the conclusion that in the modern world combined forms of coordination of economic activity as well as hybrid forms of power take place. It is mentioned that new types of power foundations do not replace the old ones but coexist with them modifying actions and traditional factors of economic dependence. At the same time foundations of this dependence become more and more disguised. Contemporary versions of voluntary alliances and coordination of activities of formally independent agents - relational contracts, networks, unions etc. - do not eliminate the problem of dependence as well as the problem of unequal distribution of costs and benefits making it even more complex.

Keywords: power; status; contract; resource management; force; monopoly; fundamental transformation; social dilemma; economic dependence.

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