Does Institutional Theory Need Redirecting?

Renate Meyer, Markus A. Höllerer

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Greenwood, Hinings and Whetten (2014) present two major criticisms of current institutional scholarship, and see need for a broad redirection: institutional organization theory, they argue, has lost sight of the claim to study organizations and, with its overwhelming focus on isomorphism and similarity, has fallen short on adequately theorizing differences across organizations. In our article, we offer support as well as a riposte. First, while we agree that the organizing of collective efforts needs to be at the core of organization research, we warn that focusing on formal organization – a rationalized cultural product itself – may direct attention away from studying alternative modes of organizing, and underestimates the dynamic developments that have transformed contemporary organizations into increasingly complex objects of inquiry. Second, we are concerned that, by abandoning the analysis of similarities in favour of differences, institutional theory may eventually lose sight of its pivotal quest: to study institutions.
TidsskriftJournal of Management Studies
Udgave nummer7
Sider (fra-til)1221-1233
Antal sider13
StatusUdgivet - 2014


  • Archetypes
  • Bundles of practices
  • Institutional logics
  • Institutional theory
  • Organizing