Under Bergson's influence, Hauriou saw social institutions as products of the `creative power' of mankind (Hauriou, 1925: 97). Thus, he came to summarise his theory as follows:

`An institution is an idea of a work or enterprise that is realised and endures juridically in a social milieu; for the realisation of this idea, a power is organised that equips it with organs; on the other hand, among the members of the social group interested in the realisation of the idea, manifestations of communion occur that are directed by the organs of the power and regulated by procedures' (Hauriou, 1925: 99).

It is clear from his definition that Hauriou intended it to apply to all kinds of associative phenomena. However, he also saw it as having a broader application as become clear from his division of institutions into two categories:

(1) Institution-persons, i.e. constituted social groups or bodies (states, associations, labor unions, etc) in which `the organised power and the manifestations of communion among the group members are interiorised within the framework of the idea of the work'. For Hauriou, the `idea' of the institution-person `becomes the subject of the moral person that comes into being in the constituted body'; and

(2) Institution-articles (`institution-chose'), i.e. `elements of organised power and of manifestations of communion among group members' which are `not interiorised within the framework of the idea ... (but which) remain exterior to the idea, and hence are not capable of personification. Hauriou gives a juridical ruleas an example of this second type of institution growing out of the custom of a community (Hauriou, 1925: 100).

We see there the Roman law influence, and it is probably accurate to say that for Hauriou the word `institution' translated the old Latin `universitas' of the canonists and civilists. Nevertheless, Hauriou certainly gave a different content to the term institution-chose than that of the Roman universitas rerum.

In fact, Hauriou devoted by far the most of his attention to his first category of institution-persons, and it is these institution-persons or corporate persons which he went on to describe in detail. Thus, institutions comprise three elements:

(1) The idea of the work or enterprise to be realised in a social group.

 (2) The organised power put at the service of this idea for its realisation.

(3) The manifestations of communion that occur within the social group with respect to the idea and its realisation (Hauriou, 1925: 100).

Next, the process of foundation of the institution passes through three stages:

(1) Interiorisation of the idea of the task of the group, which begins with at a certain moment of initial `crisis' in which the idea which will form the basis of the institution crystallises in at least embryonic form in the minds of a certain group; 
(2) Incorporation, in which `the element of organised power and the element of manifestations of communion among the group members are interiorised within the idea of the work'; and

 (3) Personification, at which stage group members are `absorbed in the ideaof the work', the organs develop `a power of realisation', and the communion of the group shows itself by what Hauriou calls `psychical manifestations' (Hauriou,1925: 101).

Thus, concluded Hauriou, institutions `are born, live and die juridically':

(1) They are born by acts of foundation;

(2) They have a life that is both objective and subjective;

(3) They die by juridical acts of dissolution or abrogation (Hauriou, 1925: 100).

Let us now look in more detail at each of these points.


The theory of the institution, Extracted from Stefan Gigacz, Law's Third Dimensions: International Associations and NGOs in the Global Legal Order, memoire presented for "Master's Course in Legal Theory", European Academy of Legal Theory, Katholieke Universiteit Brussel - Facultés Universités Saint-Louis, Bruxelles, 1996, 172p.