Historical Institutionalism as Method: Applications and Uses at the Micro, Meso, and Macro Levels of Analysis

From De Percy (2022).

Below is an overview of my presentation today at the 8th Biennial ACSPRI Social Science Methodology Conference.

I have also included the slides from my presentation. If anyone has further questions, please email these to michael.depercy@canberra.edu.au.

Thanks again to ACSPRI for another great conference!


Historical institutionalism is one of the three New Institutionalisms. As a research method, the approach typically involves archival research and semi-structured interviews - employing the research techniques of both the historian and the political scientist - to understand the impact of institutional legacies on the present. I have used historical institutionalism to analyse industry policy over time for cross-national comparisons of transport and telecommunications policies and have found the approach effective at the meso-level of analysis. Recently, however, I have applied this approach to the macro-level in geopolitics (to understand institutional exhaustion), and I am currently developing a research project focused on the micro-level to understand how institutions influence the development of military doctrine through a case study of operational tactics. This presentation will demonstrate the analysis of political phenomena over time, drawing on my model of path-dependent, punctuated equilibrium. It will outline how to recognise and analyse exogenous and endogenous critical junctures in applying the model to temporal comparative and institutional studies. In doing so, I will share some of the unique insights I have developed as both a practitioner and an academic.


Please see my slides below:

Below are a variety of publications that I have produced using the method I presented in today's presentation. Please email me at michael.depercy@canberra.edu.au if you have any further questions.


De Percy, M.A. (2021). Policy Legacies from Early Australian Telecommunications: A Private Sector Perspective. Journal of Telecommunications and the Digital Economy, 9 (3).

De Percy, M.A. (2021). Models of Government-Business Relations: Industry Policy Preferences versus Pragmatism in Andrew Podger, Michael de Percy, and Sam Vincent (Eds.) Politics, Policy and Public Administration in Theory and Practice: Essays in honour of Professor John Wanna. Canberra: ANU Press.

De Percy, M.A. (2022). Institutional exhaustion and foreign aid in the time of COVID-19. In Jakupec, V., Kelly, M., and de Percy, M.A. (Eds.) COVID-19 and Foreign Aid: Nationalism and Global Development in a New World Order. London: Routledge.

De Percy, M.A. and Batainah, H.S. (2021). Identifying historical policy regimes in the Canadian and Australian communications industries using a model of path dependent, punctuated equilibrium, Policy Studies, 42 (1), pp. 42-59. DOI: 10.1080/01442872.2019.1581161.

Madsen, A. and de Percy, M.A. (2020) Telecommunications Infrastructure in Australia. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 55 (2), pp. 218-238. DOI: 10.1002/ajs4.121.