Institutional Fleecing: The Slow Death of Dutch Provinces
Many theories on organizational change depart from the assumption of change for the better, that is, change in order to gain a stronger position in relation to its competitors, to become more effective or efficient, or at least to improve the organization. It is our idea that the theories developed on this basis are biased. Contrasting to this dominant approach, this article gives a longitudinal analysis of the development in an organization in decline. It is directed at explaining the downfall of a Dutch province. In the medieval empire of Charlemagne it was one of the most powerful duchies of Europe. Later it became one of the seven provinces in the powerful Dutch Republic, and nowadays it has lost nearly all its tasks and functions. Departing from neo-institutional theory this paper seeks the major causes for this downfall and specifies some of the relations in the theoretical model of punctuated equilibrium. It concludes that the historical institutional dynamics can be seen as a self-enforcing process in which punctuations can be explained by the increasing distance between individual preferences within the organization, and the pressures originating from developments in the environment. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers. Manufactured in The Netherlands 2005
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