This paper discusses the conceptual model behind the widespread belief that in post Communist societies, once the democratic and market institutions are introduced, the emerging values and beliefs engendered by those very institutions will create the conditions for the consolidation and reproduction of democracy and market economy. The model is subjected to a double assessment: a critical theoretical review followed by an empirical test conducted through a case study. Both raise questions regarding the realism of the model and show that the direct relationship between institutional structures, institutional learning and the emerging values and beliefs (defined in this study as ‘operational codes’), a key relationship on which the model is based, is difficult to establish and substantiate. The paper concludes by pointing out the necessity to further elaborate the initial model in order to accommodate problems such as the emergence of institutional rigidities and learning blockages, and the emergence of dysfunctional values (values and beliefs that do not support and reproduce but undermine the institutional structures that shaped them initially), and to incorporate a theory of institutional change in which the evolution and change of beliefs, ideas and values play a much more preeminent place.

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