Poverty's Monument: Social Problems and Organizational Field Emergence in Historical Perspective

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This article draws on historical institutionalism as an approach to studying the relationship between business institutions and major social problems. Using the historical case of the emergence of savings banking as an organizational response to poverty in the nineteenth‐century United States, I develop three conceptual claims about how social problems shape the processes of institutional and organizational change. First, I show how the ‘historical framing’ of social problems shapes the processes of problematization, design, and legitimation related to institutional change. Second, I demonstrate how the dynamics of cooperation, competition, and alignment between an emerging organizational field and other fields shape the evolution of institutional responses to social problems. And finally, I illustrate how historical revisionism as a methodological approach can help management scholars re‐consider settled empirical and theoretical claims in a way that takes social problems into account.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)545-577
Number of pages33
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • Fields
  • Historical framing
  • Historical institutionalism
  • Hybrid organizations
  • Management history
  • Social movements

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