Witten/Herdecke University, Witten, Germany
1-2 February 2018
WINIR sponsored the Fourth Witten Conference on Institutional Change on “Institutional Pathologies” organised by the Witten Institute for Institutional Change (WIWa) at Witten/Herdecke University, Witten, Germany, on 1-2 February 2018.
There is a growing research literature dealing with dysfunctional organizations within economics and political science. But the topic of “social” or “institutional pathologies” also finds increasing attention within social psychology, social philosophy and other disciplines. The conference seeks to improve our theoretical understanding of pathologies in a variety of different institutions both formal and informal as well as in networks whose structural and functional properties may differ from the general features of organizations. Objects of research include political, scientific, medical, bureaucratic, artistic, military, and media institutions, organizations and networks. This is not only a scientifically demanding task. Moreover: Normative and evaluative questions cannot be avoided, and must be grounded and justified, in discourses about institutional pathologies.
The conference sought to identify promising interdisciplinary approaches (in economics, social philosophy, political science, social science, psychology, theoretical medicine, legal studies and other relevant disciplines) with a view to progress towards the synthesis and integration of empirical research, theory construction and modelling of institutional pathologies.
Submissions from any relevant discipline addressing problems of conceptualizing and dealing with institutional pathologies, such as the following, were welcome:
- Does corruption support or hinder economic development? What other social miseries can be explained as symptoms of institutional pathologies (e.g. chronic warfare and violence, massive poverty, pervasive mistrust, high suicide rates, militant fundamentalism, terrorism)?
- Do self-enforcing institutions help to stabilize economic and political organizations? Is self- enforcement a proxy for “institutional health”?
- How do notions of institutional pathologies connect with discourses about legitimacy, efficient and effective goal-attainment, institutional rationality and irrationality?
- Can conceptualizations of disease, illness, malady be modified and re-construed in ways that make them heuristically applicable to diverse social institutions, organizations, and networks?
- Are there other models from disciplines such as economics, organizational theory, clinical psychology, or systemic therapy that are more suited to the task?
- What are suitable evaluative and normative standards of institutional “health” (normalcy, well-functioning, “salutogenesis” etc.) “illness” and “disease” for models of social pathologies, and how can we best justify and ground such normative standards?
Selected papers were considered for a special issue of Schmollers Jahrbuch, a peer-reviewed international economics and social sciences journal.
Scientific committee (WIWA): Matthias Kettner (philosophy & psychology, Chair), Jens Harbecke (philosophy), Elke Krahmann (politics), Dirk Sauerland (economics, Director of WIWA), Joachim Zweynert (economics).
The Witten Conference on Institutional Pathologies has benefited from the generous support of