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Claude Ménard, Professor of Economics, Université Paris I/Sorbonne

Governing infrastructures, the key role of meso-institutions


Notwithstanding their specificities, different network infrastructures (energy, transportation, communications, water and sanitation etc.) share a fundamental property: they are embedded in and part of institutional settings. This lecture makes two key points. First, it submits that institutions are composed of different layers that play very different roles in the governance of infrastructures. Second, building on recent contributions it shows the key role of “intermediate”, “meso” institutions that link the general rules and norms framing the domain of infrastructures and the players operating within the domain thus defined. The underlying hypothesis is that infrastructures are socio-technological systems: although submitted to physical laws through their technological dimension, the modalities of their development and usage are framed by humanly made rules, norms and values that essentially percolate thought these meso-institutions. The argument is substantiated by the many challenges the development and/or rehabilitation of water and sanitation services face, particularly in developing and emerging countries.


Claude Ménard: Professor (Emeritus) affiliated to the Centre d’Economie de la Sorbonne, Claude Menard has published extensively in international journals on the economics of organizations and institutions and on infrastructures and regulation. His most recent books are Network Infrastructures: Technology Meets Institutions (with Rolf Kunneke and John Groenewegen; CUP, 2021); and Advanced Introduction to New Institutional Economics (with Mary Shirley; EE, 2022). More information is available on http://claudemenard.net