Essays on economic rationalities

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School of Business | Doctoral thesis (article-based)
Johtamisen laitos
Department of Management Studies
Degree programme
Aalto University publication series DOCTORAL DISSERTATIONS, 147/2019
This dissertation consists of three empirical essays examining economic rationalities in a central bank and financial markets. The underlying theoretical perspective to economic rationalities is a practical and field-theoretical understanding of how actors develop beliefs in accordance with the structures of the economic world. Therefore, I examine these economic rationalities as particular couplings with the environment by addressing three questions on formation, mismatches, and deviance. First, how do actors form beliefs and credible predictions on the economic environment despite the unknowability of the future? To answer this question, I analyze expert work and macroeconomic forecasting in a simulation room by ethnographic observation. I find the amalgam of experts, models, and data in the production of knowledge claims on the future. Forecasting is an epistemic practice of iterative experimentation and judgment-making with model converging and aligning economic theory, history data, and economists' dispositional expertise. I identity three forms of judgments conveying economists' interaction with the model from a perception to a response. I address the second question of belief-environment misfits by examining the Bank of Finland's regulatory and monetary policy-making in the 1980s. During the decade, the Bank of Finland's monetary and exchange rate policies transitioned from an administrative logic to a market logic. Amid the transformation of logics, the central bank deregulated interest rates and capital movements, which together with the change of policies and field dynamics resulted in credit expansion and a banking crisis. In the essay, I investigate why the Bank of Finland failed to anticipate risks and to recognize the collapse of financial system. The analysis discovers that despite the Bank of Finland deliberatively changed its institutional infrastructure it nevertheless descended into a situation in which beliefs imprinted during the era of rigid regulation were in misfit with the subsequent institutional patterns. The third question concerns the question of organizations' deviance from the institutional environment. To address this question, I analyze the adoption and diffusion of innovative financial practices among Finnish banks during the 1980s. The analysis finds that a former fringe actor together with some new players were able to challenge long-term incumbent actors through adoption of innovative practices. The outcome of destabilized power relations aggravated the competitive relationships between banks and cascading moves eventually led into mutual hostile cornering between incumbent banks. In its entirety, the analysis underlines that deviation from socially shared norms offer opportunities to destabilize institutional field affecting on competitive relationships.
Supervising professor
Schildt, Henri, Prof., Aalto University, Department of Management Studies, Finland
organizations, institutions, organizational fields, practice theory, futures, forecasting, ethnography, financial crises
Other note
  • [Publication 1]: Pakarinen, Pauli. Experts and Machines: Macroeconomic Forecasting in a Simulation Room. Unpublished essay.
  • [Publication 2]: Pakarinen, Pauli. The Don Quixote Effect: The Role of Belief–Environment Misfits in Regulatory Failures. Unpublished essay.
  • [Publication 3]: Pakarinen, Pauli, Laurila, Juha. The Casino Game: The Strategic Adoption of Innovative Financial Practices in Finland. Unpublished essay.