Games Real Actors Play: Actor-Centered Institutionalism in Policy Research

By Fritz W. Scharpf | Go to book overview

4

Actor Constellations

In Chapter 2 I introduced the concept of "actor constellations" as the crucial link between substantive policy analyses and interaction-oriented policy research. The basic idea was that the solutions (identified by substantive policy research) to a given policy problem must be produced by the interdependent choices of a plurality of policy actors with specific capabilities and with specific perceptions and preferences regarding the outcomes that could be obtained. Since the choices are interdependent, it is likely that no single actor will be able to determine the outcome unilaterally. What matters is the actor constellation.

In the present chapter I will begin by discussing a variety of characteristic or "archetypal" actor constellations. Since these are represented by simple and highly transparent two-by-two game matrices, it also becomes necessary to discuss the conditions under which this radical simplification of complex real-world constellations might be methodologically permissible. Next I will return to an issue that was mentioned but postponed in the previous chapter: Game matrices are usually taken to represent the worldviews of players who only care about their own payoffs. In real-world interactions, however, it is often the case that actors do care very much, positively or negatively, about the payoffs that others will receive. Thus it is necessary to show how these "interaction orientations" could be integrated into the analysis of actor constellations. The chapter concludes with a discussion of normative criteria by which the problem-solving capacity of different types of policy interactions can be evaluated.


POLICY PROBLEMS AND ACTOR ORIENTATIONS

In the most general sense, anything that ego considers desirable (or undesirable) may become a policy problem if changes in the desired direction are possible in principle but cannot be achieved by ego acting alone because others are either causing the problem or have control over some action resources that are necessary for its resolution ( Coleman 1990). Of course that does not imply that all of these problems need to be resolved through public policy, or for that matter

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Games Real Actors Play: Actor-Centered Institutionalism in Policy Research
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Tables and Figures xi
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 18
  • 1 - Policy Research in the Face of Complexity 19
  • Notes 34
  • 2 - Actor-Centered Institutionalism 36
  • Notes 49
  • 3 - Actors 51
  • Notes 67
  • 4 - Actor Constellations 69
  • Notes 93
  • 5 - Unilateral Action in Anarchic Fields and Minimal Institutions 97
  • Notes 114
  • 6 - Negotiated Agreements 116
  • Notes 147
  • 7 - Decisions by Majority Vote 151
  • Notes 168
  • 8 - Hierarchical Direction 171
  • Notes 193
  • 9 - Varieties of the Negotiating State 195
  • Notes 214
  • Appendix 1 - A Game-Theoretical Interpretation of Inflation and Unemployment in Western Europe 217
  • Notes 237
  • References 240
  • Appendix 2 - Efficient Self-Coordination in Policy Networks -- a Simulation Study 245
  • Notes 273
  • References 276
  • References 281
  • About the Book and Author 303
  • Index 305
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