This introduction to the Kornai 90 Symposium briefly overviews János Kornai's rich scholarship with the aim of highlighting those features of Kornai's work that are of particular interest to institutional economists. Above all, the introduction browses through some of his main works, such as Overcentralization, Anti-Equilibrium, and Economics of Shortage, with a special emphasis on the soft budget constraint, The Socialist System, and Kornai's latest writings on Hungary's U-turn. We invoke the political contexts of these works to suggest their impact on Kornai's diverse questions, changing methods, and the constraint they put on his conclusions as well as on the reception of the research results. In the end, we underline that Kornai was an independent scholar with an interest in a variety of methods and approaches, who nevertheless, or maybe consequently, had a remarkable impact on the thinking of social scientists and practitioners alike. The four papers presented in the symposium are testimonies to the living impact of Kornai's oeuvre on institutionalist analysis today.