Institutional Approach – Institutional analysis

The development of political analysis was associated with the development of research methods from one stage to another.

So he moved from the traditional stage in which the research was distinguished by methods and units of analysis that added a formal, contemplative, descriptive, non-comparative character to the modern stage in which the research was distinguished by separating reality from objective values, using quantitative and qualitative approaches, and using theories and approaches that are used as a framework for classifying and analyzing a large number of information about various Political systems; Approach is a mediator between the researcher and the different phenomena that helps to interpret them based on the variables or the variable that we think has an explanatory capacity more than others, and therefore we will deal in our research with this institutional approach, which is one of the most important approaches that analyzed various phenomena.

Conceptual framework for institutional approach

To clarify the concept of approach, we must first explain the concept of approach, and then the institutional approach, to arrive at the concept of institutional approach in its full meaning Accordingly, we find that there have been many opinions and varied in defining and defining the approach, but they are all combined between them as the entrance that is used to refer to the criteria used in selecting the questions to be asked and the controls that govern; With a view to selecting specific topics and information or excluding them from the scope of the research. Approach is also used as a framework for analyzing political and social phenomena and their knowledge, and it helps researchers and analysts to identify the most important topics and clarify their basic aspects, and it helps them on how they treat their topics.

Approach expresses the effect of the researcher on the research process, and there are many faces, shapes and expressions of this influence, so approximation may be a valid term to denote this effect because we have defined it as the angle from which the researcher views his subject.

Approaching is a method of approaching the phenomenon concerned after its discovery and identification with the intention of explaining it and based on a factor or variable whose role was determined from the researcher’s point of view in the movement of the phenomenon in advance.

Approaches vary according to the number of angles from which every researcher views the phenomenon, in addition to the difference in the intellectual, cognitive and philosophical background of each one of them, and the reason for the complexity of the political phenomenon. Therefore, it is desirable that the approaches that are used in its study be integrated, so that the phenomenon can be flipped on all its aspects in order to control its concealments. And reaching its depths, seeking to understand and understand the phenomenon requires us to touch all the paths leading to it, regardless of its philosophy of the nature of the political phenomenon.

As for the concept of the institution, it is the sum of the appearances and contextual patterns that represent collective choices that define, restrict and give opportunities for individual behavior. Samuel Huntington defined it as “patterns of constant, resident and frequent behavior among individuals.” So, an organization is an entity that includes many people such as a public institution. Or a private university that has a collective goal related to an external environment, and the institution is a very important thing when undertaking many group projects. The same applies to political institutions, which are considered a group of official organizational elements related to the political system, which include legislative, executive, judicial, and bureaucratic institutions.

Definition of institutional approach :

Institutional orientation or institutional approach means the totality of theories in the field of comparative politics and in political science in general, which give importance to institutions in determining political behaviors and outcomes, given that institutions represent an independent change that affects the determination of who are the actors who are allowed to participate in the political arena. It determines the pattern of strategies they produce, influencing the choices and beliefs they hold about the possible and the desirable.

Stages of development of the institutional approach

The institutional approach emerged as a response to the historical and legal approach, as many political scholars realized that the political phenomenon is more than just the legal and constitutional dimensions, and then the attention shift occurred focusing on the study of political facts as the study in this approach focuses on the institution as a unit of analysis, and This approach went through two phases, namely:

  1. The traditional stage : It  is the stage in which the attention was focused on the state and its legislative, executive, and judicial institutions, and the study was marked by a formal character that concerned with official institutions and in which the descriptive, historical and constitutional view prevailed. This approach generally ignores political behavior, social context and The ideology in which institutions move, as well as ignore the non-toxic actors such as social classes and political power, and this stage remained until the behavioral school reached.
  2. The modern stage : It  is the stage in which the modern or historical institution was spawned, and while some of its seeds appeared in the mid-sixties at the hands of the American political scientist Samuel Huntington, in his famous book The Political System in Changing Societies, the return of the modern institution emerged clearly in the eighties where the focus was On informal institutions, social behavior, and the economic and ideological context in which individuals move, legal studies were avoided.

Characteristics of the institutional approach

The institutional approach, both traditional and modern, has many characteristics, among which we suggest the following:

  • Analyzing the political phenomenon in depth and from various aspects.
  • Classification of the meaning and functions of the institution.
  • Interest in the value analysis of institutions.
  • Attention to the formal and informal side of institutions.
  • The predominance of legal institutionalization.
  • Heavy classification in the context of comparison and limitation to the western systems in Europe (Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States of America).
  • Interest in the development of institutions throughout history.
  • Considering the institution as a basic unit of analysis.
  • The ability to study the institution as a single unit or divided into several units.

Institutional Approach Measurement Criteria :

There have been many studies that dealt with institutions and theoretical and analytical frameworks that researchers use. Huntington has been interested in studying institutions, their dimensions, patterns, and effects, and setting measures that rely on certain indicators to define those patterns and levels. He identified four measures to measure the level of the institution, and these criteria are:

  1. Adaptation :  It means the ability of the institution to respond to internal and external influences and face them through specific arrangements such as making changes in people or jobs, and this ability is measured using the following indicators:- Chronological age: the longer the institution’s life, the more capable it will be to adapt, and vice versa. Rather, the more established institution in the past is more positively influential in enhancing both the performance and stability of the state.

    – Generational age: It relates to changes in the higher leadership of the institution and the extent to which it expresses generational change, i.e. whether the leadership was peacefully transmitted from one generation to the next, so the institution in which the transition takes place according to established rules in a quiet and peaceful manner is more capable of adaptation than the institution in which the process takes place. The transition to leadership is violent and bloody, or the leadership change takes place within the framework of the same generation.

    Career change: Does the organization change its main tasks? An organization that changes its functions is more adaptive than one that is unable to do so.

  2. Complexity :  in the sense that institutions organize a group of specialized units and perform a set of functions that ensure their continuity, and complexity is measured by the following two indicators:- The degree of multiplicity and diversity of the institution’s units

    The degree of multiplicity and diversity of the institution’s functions.

  3. Independence :  It refers to the extent of the organization’s freedom to operate and is measured by:The budget: Does the institution have an independent budget, and is it free to dispose of it or not? The more the institution enjoys independence, the more the political system can be described as a system of institutions, and in return, the more the political system, through its institutions, is subordinate and subject to the influence of social, family, and tribal groups … Etc., whenever possible it is judged that he lacks self-government, and that it reflects a high practice of political corruption.

    Positions: To what extent is the organization independent in recruiting its members?

  4. Cohesion :  It refers to the degree of satisfaction and agreement between members within the organization, and it is measured by the following indicators: The extent of members’ affiliation to the institution.The extent of disagreements within the institution, and whether they relate to the institution’s principles and objectives, or to marginal issues.

    The extent of the existence of wings within the institution.

Uses of the institutional approach

This approach is based on a descriptive explanation and detail of the institution, then a comparison between institutions in terms of similarity and difference, whether within the country or between countries, by focusing on the following stations:

  1. The purpose of its formation: Was it established with the intention of achieving a public purpose or for the sake of private gain, and was it intended to achieve effectiveness in performance, or just to confer false legitimacy.
  2. Stages of its development: What are the factors that had the decisive roles and major influences on the form and performance of the institution, and was the development that occurred to the institution due to its maturity and natural development, or because of a revolution, or due to economic, social and cultural factors?
  3. Recruiting members in the organization: It is noticed that the recruitment process differs from one institution to another and from one country to another, and recruitment may take place through elections, appointment, or a combination of both.
  4. The means used by the institution in order to maintain its survival.
  5. Institution structures and structures, i.e. what constitutes the institution’s structure.
  6. The institution’s relationship with other institutions.
  7. The institution’s functions are as stipulated in the constitution and the law.
  8. The relative weight of institutions in terms of importance, effectiveness, power and influence.
  9. The internal organization of the institution and the distribution of roles in it.
  10. The functions of the institution and its importance.
  11. The time span in which the institution can operate.
  12. The internal structure and external structure of the institution.

Institutional Approach Assessment

The institutional approach contains many negatives and positives, which are as follows:


  1. It does not present a coordinated approach that allows for comparison.
  2. The major graduates from political science to the introduction of sociology and history.
  3. The lack of connection between the Foundation and its members, as this relationship is complementary, and the mere separation between them is a distortion of reality.
  4. The inappropriateness of this approach to study the systems of government in primitive societies that were devoid of modern political institutions.
  5. The institutional approach describes institutions without explaining the patterns of interaction within each institution separately.

Pros :

  1. Attention to the formal side in addition to the informal side.
  2. Dynamic rather than static.
  3. Focusing on the values ​​and rules of behavior within the institutions.

Through our discussion of this research on the institutional approach, which considers the institution to be the basic unit of analysis, as it is used in the analysis of political studies, as it is the political institutions of the state, the goal of its formation and stages of its development, as it attaches great importance to the buildings and structures where this approach considers that the institution is an independent change that constitutes The political structure and affects it and has a major role in the political structure. In general, the institutional approach sees politics as the product of institutions that can greatly affect the political process.


Sources and references:

Muhammad Shalabi, Methodology of Political Analysis. Algeria: Faculty of Law and Political Science, 1999.

Abdelali Abdelkader, Lectures on Comparative Political Systems, Algeria: Saida University, Moulay Taher, 2008.

Sumaya Flo Abboud, translator, The Political System of Changing Societies. Beirut: Saqi House, 1993.

Wafa Lutfi, lectures on political systems theory. Egypt: October Six University, 2016.

Mohamed Nasr Aref, Comparative Politics Epistemology: The Epistemological Model, Theory, and the Approach. B, B, N: University Foundation for Studies, Publishing and Distribution, 2002.

Miloud Arous, “Obstacles to political practice in light of pluralism in Algeria 1990-2006, an analytical and divisive approach.” Supplementary note for a master’s degree in political science, Faculty of Law and Political Science, Department of Political Science, 2010.

Ahmed Ezzat Mohamed, the definition of the institution. Website, .com 3mawdoo, accessed: 10/21/2016, 14:40.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations in addition to a Master's degree in International Security Studies. Alongside this, I have a passion for web development. During my studies, I acquired a strong understanding of fundamental political concepts and theories in international relations, security studies, and strategic studies.

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