How is an institution defined?

An institution is seen as: “a set of endogenously shaped (…) social rules” See P. Ho, “Myths of Tenure Security and Titling: Endogenous, Institutional Change of China’s Housing and Land”, Land Use Policy, 2015, Vol. 47, p. 353.

An example

Defined along these lines, a formal law or right of ownership is an institution inasmuch as informal, customary law regarding forest, fisheries or mining may be deemed an institution. In addition, one should be reminded that terms like ‘contract’ or ‘ownership’ frequently refer to (Western) conceptualizations of how institutions should appear based on certain axioms or political considerations.” See: P. Ho, “An endogenous theory of property rights: opening the black box of institutions”, Journal of Peasant Studies, 2016, 43/6, p. 1129.

Similarly, also rural share-cropping or a federal reserve can be considered institutions in that they represent a set of rules instead of a single rule on how, respectively, peasants minimize environmental and socio-economic risk in collaborative agricultural production, and financial markets are to be regulated through interest rates, credit flows and monetary supply. In addition, their operations are also guided through (written and unwritten) internal rules varying from communication to membership, allocation and penalty.” P. Ho, “An endogenous theory of property rights: opening the black box of institutions”, Journal of Peasant Studies, 2016, 43/6, pp. 1129-30

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