Self-destructive institutions

By Jurre Honkoop

After the battle of the parliamentary system in the Netherlands 1866-1868 census suffrage became standard. Liberals were known to have the most assets and thus became the dominant player in Dutch politics. I will set out to explain how the liberals lost this dominant position using a power-distributional perspective.

When the liberals gained their dominant position they set out to implement liberal policies. With the renewed freedoms, minorities could emancipate more into society and could start participating in politics through this emancipation and enhanced wealth. As Thelen (2004) states, dominant actors will want to continue their dominance; however, they rely on active mobilization of political support. Shifts in the balance of power can then be an important driver of change. Whereas the liberals did a good job in pushing through their desired policy, in the policy-making process they created an organized opposition. The balance of power then shifted in favor of the opposition. Resource allocations from one set of institutions can largely influence resource allocations in others. In this case the shift in the societal emancipation then seeped through into other sets of institutions such as the electoral system and the educational system. Confessional parties for example set out to get funding for religious schools and managed to get their way through coalition forming. Furthermore eventually the non-liberals managed to transform the electoral system even more in their favor.

The liberal party by implementing a set of liberal policies thus created an opportunity for minorities to participate in politics. The liberals could not find enough political support against their new political opposition to stay the dominant actor. Resource allocations in the one system seeped through into other institutional systems and further deteriorated the dominant position.

Sequencing in LUC course allocation

By Jurre Honkoop

In this blogpost I will look at sequencing and positive/negative feedback mechanisms in LUC course selection. As we see in LUC course selection, course administrators have agenda setting power over which courses they allocate to whom. Game theoretic analysis however, would arguably be hard since (hopefully) course administrators do not let their personal favorites take precedence over others. Furthermore the order in which proposals are considered matters. Although the courses are not allocated on a first-come first-serve basis, if administrators starts allocating from the top of his screen of he might be biased to first-comers. Paths of allocation are thus not selections, but they unfold. 

A course allocation in one block might prohibit you from taking an entire track in the future. This is for example true if 200 courses are only taught once a year and you do not get this course in year 3. You are thus bound by one allocation in the next ones, resulting in a positive feedback loop. Courses in tracks in which you have already followed a course are more appealing since for this track you fulfilled prerequisites for other courses.   

As stated before, I hope that administrators do not let their personal preferences influence his decision making, however even if they did, they would not have full power to do so. Rules of precedence are set. People that “won” in first rounds of course allocation are on schedule for finishing their major successfully and do not “need” specific courses. However, people that did not plan or were unlucky do need such courses. In this case the latter group gets precedence. People that won in the first rounds are thus caught in a negative feedback loop, as the rules try to spread out evenly the “luck factor” over students.