Leszek Balcerowicz, Warsaw School of Economics and College of Europe
Abstract: The paper first highlights Olson’s contribution to social sciences. Two main dimensions of political regimes are then distinguished. Features of economically successful reforms are defi ned. Next, the situational determinants of market reforms are discussed. Against this background a special case is analyzed: reforms after socialism. Finally, the deterioration of economic systems and their causes are presented.
Key words: Mancur Olson, reforms, political economy, political regimes, interest groups.
1. INTRODUCTION: MANCUR OLSON – A GREAT SOCIAL SCIENTIST
I regard Mancur Olson as one of the greatest social scientists of our time. He had a phenomenal gift of observation of social reality that allowed him to identify important mechanisms overlooked by the others, but obvious after the fact. This is a feature of a true discovery. He was a rigorous methodological individualist – he had tried to explain the aggregate social phenomena by reference to the situations individuals face, especially the ensuing incentives. He had assumed in his analyses that the individuals have the same motivational and cognitive dispositions (human nature) regardless of their positions. In other words he focused on the situational impact by linking the differences (changes) in individuals’ actions to the differences (changes) in their situations, including those that are determined by the differences in institutions. As such, he avoided a popular tendency of ascribing a special behavior to special dispositions of people in a certain group; a practice that often leads to an unreflective deification of the state
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Artykuł ukazał się w czasopiśmie ,,Półrocznik Decyzje" (pismo poświęcone podejmowaniu decyzji w gospodarce i społeczeństwie), Nr 24, grudzień 2015.