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Working Paper No. 194. The Limits of Pragmatism in Institutional Change

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Företagandets villkor, Ideologi, Institutionell ekonomi, Nils Karlson, Pragmatism, Reformer
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Abstract

Modern politics in Western democracies is to a large extent characterized by political pragmatism, a position where feasible, incremental, and more or less technocratic improvements of the status quo are advocated. While such a position has some advantages, i.e. safeguarding against false ideologies and bad radical reforms as well as more populist policies, this paper argues that there are limits to pragmatism in “welfare-enhancing” institutional change. Pragmatism cannot deal with situations where a whole interpretative framework needs to be changed in order to achieve beneficial institutional change. The status quo may be highly inefficient and still cannot be improved by marginal adjustments due to outdated or false mental frameworks, special interests and institutional lock-in. In such situations an ideological shift may be a prerequisite for higher efficiency and welfare. A position that may combine the strengths in each of the perspectives may be called “principled pragmatism”.

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Karlson, N. (2012). The Limits of Pragmatism in Institutional Change. Ratio Working Paper No. 194.

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Ratio Working Paper No. 349: Industrial conflict in essential services in a new era – Swedish rules in a comparative perspective
Working paperPublication
Karlson, N.
Publication year

2021

Published in

Ratio Working Paper

Abstract

This paper examines whether the Swedish regulatory system of dealing with industrial conflicts that affect essential services need an update or reform. Are the existing rules effective in a world where many essential services are upheld by many interdependent agents in complex systems where every single node becomes critical for the functioning of the system, and where the essential service activities could be either private or public? A comparative study is conducted with the corresponding regulatory systems of the United Kingdom, Germany, and Denmark.
The conclusion is that Sweden is a special case. The Swedish protection against and readiness in dealing with societally harmful industrial conflicts in essential services is weaker than in the countries of comparison. Just as in relation to other threats to essential services, it is not sustainable to claim that just because such a threat is not currently present, there would be no need for preparedness.
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Ratio Working Paper No 343: Populism, Liberalism and the Quest for Meaning and Community
Working paperPublication
Karlson, N.
Publication year

2020

Abstract

Liberalism is losing ground, while populist or even authoritarian nationalist regimes are on the rise. This paper argues that the causes of the decline are, at least partly, endogenous, that a narrow focus on economic efficiency and the successful critique of socialism and the welfare state have created an idea vacuum that has opened up for these illiberal tendencies. The conclusion is that a central challenge for liberalism is to offer a comprehensive idea and narrative about meaning and community that is not socialistic, conservative or nationalistic, but distinctly liberal, to counter these developments.

Ratio Working Paper No 343: Populism, Liberalism and the Quest for Meaning and Community
Working paperPublication
Karlson, N.
Publication year

2020

Published in

Ratio Working Paper

Abstract

Liberalism is losing ground, while populist or even authoritarian nationalist regimes are on the rise. This paper argues that the causes of the decline are, at least partly, endogenous, that a narrow focus on economic efficiency and the successful critique of socialism and the welfare state have created an idea vacuum that has opened up for these illiberal tendencies. The conclusion is that a central challenge for liberalism is to offer a comprehensive idea and narrative about meaning and community that is not socialistic, conservative or nationalistic, but distinctly liberal, to counter these developments.

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