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Institutions and Institutionalism I: Organizational Perspectives



The purpose of this class is to introduce students to state of the art theory and esearch within institutionalist perspectives on organization, and explore the potential of institutional theory for designing and conducting empirical research. Many authors distinguish old and new institutionalism, and though we shall discuss some of the classic institutional statements in the literature on organizations, this class concentrates on what came to be called new-institutionalism. Over two decades ago John Meyer and Brian Rowan published their now classic article –Institutionalized Organizations: Formal Structure as Myth and Ceremony- in the American Journal of Sociology. It was the start of a new way of theorizing and researching organizational structure, change, and performance, away from rational actor perspectives toward a new cultural approach to organizational life. The emphasis is on normatively prescribed structures which are different from the actual structures that organizations need to function effectively. Now, over 20 years later, institutionalism is a well established and still evolving theoretical approach that produces a variety of empirical studies. This class shall close-read and discuss literature, and use ideas and theory from this literature for writing three short papers. Students will present these papers in class, and discuss each others work. A course hand-out with the calendar and additional, recommended literature shall be provided by the end of August.

Method of Instruction

Seminar meetings

Study Material

W. Richard Scott. 2001. Institutions and Organizations (second edition). Thousand Oaks/London/New Delhi: Sage Publications. – Walter W.

Powell and Paul J. DiMaggio (eds.). 1991. The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press

But minor changes could be made! This will be announced as soon as possible.


Participation and a final paper


Monday 3 februari until 24 march, 11.00-13.00 hrs in 1A24