At present, institutional design is an under-theorized and underdeveloped part of the social sciences. In this paper I focus on designs for situations of collective action where the outcome is controlled by the choices of several self-interested actors. In those situations the goal of institutional design is to alter the rules of the game so that self-interested actors find it rational to cooperate. I explore the viability of that definition by considering two examples of institutional design: urban safety and academic peer review. I discuss the implications of my findings for our conception of rational self-interest and propose that three design principles – publicity, boundaries, and contiguity – can be inferred from the analysis.
OlsenJohan P.McDonnellL. M.TimpaneP. M.BenjaminR.“Democracy and Schooling: An Institutional Perspective”The Democratic Purposes of Education2000Lawrence, KSUniversity Press of Kansas148173(with J. G. March)