While institutional analyses often assess whether collective action occurs, scant literature exists on key characteristics of institutional rules and how they affect collective action. Building on the Institutional Analysis and Development framework, this paper aims to identify rule directions and demonstrate how rule directions influence collective action. A rule direction is the particular direction that is provided to the decision-making process by the aggregated rules-in-use of a rule type. We compare two Dutch infrastructure projects, where collective decision-making either was or was not achieved. Our study demonstrates that rule directions provide a systematic and context-sensitive explanation for how institutions influence collective action. Collective action requires active agency regarding rule directions–i.e. (re)directing the diversity of positions, soft-closing the exit of boundaries, sharing and assimilating information, establishing process symmetry in aggregation, and managing reciprocity regarding scope–which can transform the institutional predisposition of sectoral action towards collective action.
- collective action
- infrastructure planning
- Institutional Analysis and Development Framework
- rule direction
- the Netherlands