Particular sets of institutions, once they become established in a society, have a strong tendency to persist. In this paper I argue that understanding how elites form and reproduce is key to understanding the persistence of institutions over time. I illustrate this idea with a simple political economy theory of institutions and through examples from Liberia, the US, South Africa and Germany I show how elites influence institutions. To change institutions requires having an understanding of how reforms influence the preferences, capabilities and strategies of elites.
Robinson, J.A. Elites and Institutional Persistence. UNU-WIDER, Helsinki, Finland (2010) 30 pp. ISBN 978-92-9230-323-5 [WIDER Working Paper No. 2010/85]