The other side of agency: bricolage and institutional continuity

Martin Bæk Carstensen*, Nils Röper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Agency has received much attention in recent historical institutionalist theorizing of change processes, but remains largely disconnected from questions about mechanisms that stabilize institutions. To help fill this lacuna, the paper presents bricolage as one key mechanism through which actors stabilize an institutional setup. It suggests that institutions may be defended by keeping intact the institutional logic on which the incumbent coalition is based, but rearrange the salience of the ideational and institutional elements that make up the existing institutional setup. The empirical relevance of the argument is supported through a case analysis of a 1980-reform that could have changed the face of German corporatism, but never was, namely the policy of collective equity funds (Tariffonds). Through process tracing, we explain the fate of the reform with the effectiveness of a last-minute intervention based on a bricolage of the extant institutional logic.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1288-1308
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Agency
  • Germany
  • bricolage
  • historical institutionalism
  • institutional stability
  • reform process

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