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Testing the Strength of the Iron Cage: A Meta-Analysis of Neo-Institutional Theory


  • Heugens, P.P.M.A.R.
  • Lander, M.W.


In this study, we use meta-analytical techniques to quantitatively synthesize and evaluate the sizeable body of empirical work that has been conducted under the banner of neo-institutional theory. We find strong support for the influence of mimetic pressures on organizational isomorphism, but support for the predicted roles of normative and coercive factors is mixed. Similarly, we find that the strategic isomorphism, the homogenous application of corporate policies, tends to translate into symbolic but not substantive performance effects. In combination with additional moderator analyses, these findings suggest new directions for future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Heugens, P.P.M.A.R. & Lander, M.W., 2007. "Testing the Strength of the Iron Cage: A Meta-Analysis of Neo-Institutional Theory," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2007-007-ORG, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
  • Handle: RePEc:ems:eureri:8581

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    Artefact Corrections; Corporate Performance; Isomorphism; Meta-analysis; Moderator Analysis; Neo-Institutional Organization Theory;

    JEL classification:

    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • M - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics
    • M14 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Corporate Culture; Diversity; Social Responsibility

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