This article suggests that the new institutionalism contains ambiguous and contradictory notions of change. By setting up a model that explains institutional constraints on decision makers, the new institutionalism correctly points out the limits of a rational choice framework of economic decision making. However, by failing to explain the sources and avenues of modifications of those constraints, the new institutionalism is unable to provide a satisfactory explanation of change. Instead, we find a patchwork of exogenous factors, such as technology, culture, and ideology, which feed into institutional change in unclear ways. This paper reaches the conclusion that those factors for change should be examined directly, rather than through the proxy of institutions.