Values, Institutional Quality and Development In Portugal

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Politics and Society

Values, Institutional Quality and Development In Portugal

By Alejandro Portes (Princeton University) M. Margarida Marques (Universidade Nova de Lisboa)

The purpose of this study has been to arrive at an authoritative and nuanced assessment of the functioning and quality of Portuguese institutions through an intensive analysis of organizations and agencies deemed emblematic of the nation’s Institutional framework.

For this purpose, the project drew on prior theoretical work that sought to arrive at a rigorous and measurable definition of “institution” and prior empirical research that developed a methodology for analyzing real existing institutions and assessing their bearing on national social and economic progress. Given the impossibility of investigating all Portuguese institutions, the study selected a sample of organizations of national scope, public and private, that are both intrinsically important and capable of casting light on the character on the broader national institutional universe. This final report is based on findings from year-long studies of six such institutions conducted at the same time and with the same methodology. That methodology is described in the following section. Investigators were asked not only to provide historical background and detailed analysis of the internal structure and modes of operation of each organization, but to rank them in a series of strategic dimensions of institutional quality drawn from previous theoretical literature in economics and sociology. These are also described next. This body of new knowledge allows us to go beyond stereotypical characteri‑ zations of Portuguese institutions or reputational “scores”, such as those used by major international agencies, and arrive at a deeper understanding of the dynamics and constraints faced by the leaders and personnel of each agency. Overall, and to anticipate subsequent findings, we can say that results of these studies are generally positive. Despite serious constraints, in part brought about by the vast economic crisis that affected the country in recent years, organizations were able to fulfill their institutional blueprints, meeting the goals for which they were created. Their contributions to good govern‑ ance and national development in their respective spheres of activity, while also generally positive, varied in effectiveness and reach depending on the character of the institutional leadership and the shifting state policies to which they were subjected. These constraints will become clear as we delve into results of the individual studies.