IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/cdl/issres/qt23z6m92c.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Institutional Analyses of Organizations: Legitimate but not Institutionalized

Author

Listed:
  • Tolbert, Pamela S.
  • Zucker, Lynne G.

Abstract

We review institutional theory to assess the direction of theory and research on institutional structures and processes. Our primary goal is to suggest an overall frame within which a coherent and interrelated body of theory and research might develop that would address institutional processes underlying stability and change of organizational structure. We select two theoretical threads, phenomenological and neo-functional approaches to organizations, and weave these in with rational choice to develop a coherent explanation of the conditions under which similar structures diffuse across organizations facing very different environments (or have very different structures when facing the same environment). We argue that resource dependence theory already provides a parsimonious explanation of why organizational structure becomes so similar across organizations facing similar environments; institutional theory has little to add to this scenario, except perhaps for a theory of organization-level ingratiation. Social does not imply non-rational, and socially-embedded does not mean unanalyzable. It is costly for each organization to de novo create its own structure, yet it also generally costly for an organization to adopt structure that is ill-suited to its main tasks and which may thus lower its performance. An efficient strategy for an organization, then, is to evaluate structures carefully by observing the effects of these structures in other organizations it deems similar, making an independent decision about whether or not to adopt those structures depending on assessment of the risk that adoption entails. There is a built-in bias toward stability of structure, since assessment is costly itself, leading to the often observed inertia of organizations. But at the same time, given renewal in the competition set, such a strategy may lead to organizational failure.

Suggested Citation

  • Tolbert, Pamela S. & Zucker, Lynne G., 1994. "Institutional Analyses of Organizations: Legitimate but not Institutionalized," Institute for Social Science Research, Working Paper Series qt23z6m92c, Institute for Social Science Research, UCLA.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:issres:qt23z6m92c
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/23z6m92c.pdf;origin=repeccitec
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Zucker, Lynne G. & Brewer, Marilynn B. & Darby, Michael R. & Peng, Yusheng, 1994. "Collaboration Structure and Information Dilemmas in Biotechnology: Organizational Boundaries as Trust Production," Institute for Social Science Research, Working Paper Series qt0gd8j9k8, Institute for Social Science Research, UCLA.
    2. Zucker, Lynne G. & Darby, Michael R., 1994. "The Organization of Biotechnology Science and Its Commercialization in Japan," Institute for Social Science Research, Working Paper Series qt9qf459t4, Institute for Social Science Research, UCLA.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Quan Lin & Yingchang Huang & Ruojin Zhu & Yue Zhang, 2019. "Comparative Analysis of Mission Statements of Chinese and American Fortune 500 Companies: A Study from the Perspective of Linguistics," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(18), pages 1-18, September.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cdl:issres:qt23z6m92c. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lisa Schiff). General contact details of provider: https://escholarship.org/uc/issr/ .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.