Pastoralist conflicts are important global development outcomes, especially in Africa. Analysing relevant literature on this phenomenon, we identify “institutions” as a key but fragmented theme. This blurs a composite understanding of how institutions affect these conflicts and their management. Hence, this article proposes a conceptual framework that brings harmony to this discourse by analysing 172 relevant publications. The framework was then tested using evidence from interviews and policy documents collected on a typical case in Agogo, Ghana. The findings show that pastoralist conflicts in Africa are shaped from three main dimensions: institutional change, institutional pluralism, and institutional meanings. Thus, state-level institutional changes create different institutions at the community level, and stakeholders using these institutions place different evaluations on them based on obtained outcomes. These dynamics contribute to conflict management dilemmas. Hence, the study recommends that intervention efforts examine whether new institutions contradict existing ones and to resolve them before implementation.