PAUL J. DIMAGGIO AND
WALTER W. POWELL
Institutionai rheory presents a paradox. Institutional analysis is as old as Emile Durkheim’s exhortation to study “social facts as things,” yet sufficiently novel to be preceded by new in much of the contemporary literature. Institutionalism purportedly represents a distinctive approach to the study of social, economic, and political phenomena; yet it is often easier to gain agreement about what it is not than about what it is. There are severa! reasons for this ambiguity: scholars who have written about institutions have often been rather casual about defining them; ins:i:u:ionalism has disparate meanings in different disciplines; and, even within organization theory, “institutionalists” vary in their relative emphasis on micro and macro features, in their weightings of cognitive and normative asp ects of institutions, and iii the importance they attribute to interests and relational networks in the creation and diffusion of institutions.
Although there are as many “new institutionalisms” as there are social scie nce disciplines, this book is about just one of them, the one that has made its mark on organization theory. especially that branch most closely associated with sociology. In presenting the papers assembled here. we hope to accomp lish three things. First, by publishing together for the first time (in part 1) four often-cited foundation works, we provide a convenient opening for readers seeking an introduction to this literature.’ Second, the papers that follow (esp ecially those in part 2) advance institutionalism’s theoretical cutting edge by clarifying ambiguities in the paradigm and detining the processes through which institutions shape organizational structure and action. These papers cons olidate the work of the last decade and suggest several agendas for further investigation.
Third, the empirical contributions in part 3 iiustrate the explanatory potent ial of institutional theory in an area in which it has been relatively silent: the analysis of organizational change. Two of these chapters (DiMaggio; Gal askiewicz) analyze the emergence of organizational fields; two (Fligstein; Brint and Karabel) expiam significam transformations within existing fields; and the last two chapters (Orrü, Biggart, and Hamilton; Singh, Tucker, and Meinhard) explore the reiationship between institutional processes and int erorganizational competition.
Togcther, thcn, lhe contrihutioflS to this volume rcpresenl Lhe OCW inStilUt ionalisms origins, its presem. and its fulure. They set ouL fundamental ideas. define and clarify distinCtive analytic framewoaks. and explores themcs of changc. conllict, and compeLitiOn that bring institutioflal analysiS intO closer contact with the concems of organizatiofl swdies and contetflPoraly social iheory.
Tina intwductiofl providcs a context for Lhe papers that foliow. We pcsent ncither ao overvicw nor a critique of Lhe ncw institutionalism in organi7atiofl theoy, nor do we offcr a rescarch agenda- ‘lhe conmbutiOflS Lo this book do those jobs very ably. What wc shall do. iii Lhe followiflg sections, is locate Lhe “neoiflstitUtioflal’ organization theory presented here. flrst, among Lhe several cofltemporary institutionalisills, especially thosc of economics and political acience, and. second. within Lhe disciplines of sociologY and organizatiofl studi ra, both with refcrence to lhe “old” institutionaliSrn and Lo indepcndent but consergcflt dçvclopmcflls in sociological theory. We dose this introduCtiOn with a discussiofl of several key open qucationS Lo LflStitUtiOflal analysis and show how chaptcrs in this volume speak Lo lhese issues.
The ‘New lnstitutioflalism”
Thc study of intitutioflS is cxperiCflciflg a rcnaissaflcC throughoUt Lhe social sciences.2 In some qUallcrS. Lhis dcveiupnieflt is a reaction against lhe hchavl ora! rcvolution of reccnt decades. whih Iflterpreted coflective political and economic bchavior as lhe aggregate consequcoCe oí individual choice. Behavi oralists viewed institutionS as epiphenomcnal. mcrely Lhe sum of individual- levei properties. But their neglect of social contcxt and lhe durability o! social institutiofla carne Sta high cost, espcciallY in a world iii which “social, politic al, and economie institutiofls base becomc larger. considerablY more complex and rcsourceful, and prima fade more impottant to coflectiVe life” (Marvh and Olscn 1984:734).
The resurgence of intereal ia jnutitUtiOflS also harkens back Lo an older tradit ion o! political cconomy, associated wifli Veblen and CommOns, chat focuscd on lhe niechaniSmi through which social and economic action occurred; and to lhe efforls of functionalislS like Parsons and Selzniek to graap the enduring inL erconneCtioiiS betwcen lhe polity, the cconomy. and lhe society. These older lincages (cli mio disfavor noL because lhcy askcd lhe wrong questions. bul bec ause thcy provided answers that were cither largely descriptiVe and historically ipecifle or ao aba(ract as to lack explanatoty puncb. The currcnt effort lo conjoin Lhe rescareh foci o! lhcse traditions with contempOlarY devcio pments in thcory and mcthod is not mercly a return to sçholatiy roo(s. bui an atiempt lo provide fresh answcrs to old questions about how social choices are
....4 ..h,.nnplecI 1w institutional arrangementS.
A different srrand of institutional tbinking comes from such ficlds as macr osociology, social history, and cultural studies, in which behavioralism never took hold. In diese arras, institutions have always bcen reganled as Lhe basic huilding blocks of social and politicai life. New insigbts from anthropology, history. and continental social thcory chalienge deterministic varictics of botb functionahsm and individuaiism, shcdding light on how meaning is socially constructed and how syrnbo!ic action transforrns noLions of ageney. Tbis une o! thinking suggesrs that individual prefercocca and such basic categories o! thought as lhe self, social action. lhe state, and citizcnship ara shaped by ins titutional fostes.
Within organizational studies, institutional theory has responded lo emp irical anomalies, o Lhe fact diat, as March and Olsen (1984:747) pot it, “what we observe in Lhe world is inconsistent with the ways in which contemporarv thcorics ask us Lo talk.” Siudies of organizational and political change routinely point Lo flndings that are hard Lo aquare with cither ralional-actcir or funct ionalist accounts (scc DiMaggio and Powell, eh. 3). Mrninistrators and politicians champion programa Ibal are cstablished hut nos implemenrcd; mana gers galher information assiduously, bur fali to analyze ii; cxperts are hired nos for advice bur to signal legitimacy. Such pervasive ftndings of case-based res carch provoke efforts to replaee racional Lhcoiies o! technical conringency or strategic cboice with ahcrnative modeis that are more consistent with thc organ izational reality that rescarebera have ol,sei-ved,
Approaches Lo institutions rooted in such diilerent soiis canno be cxpccled Lo convcrgc on a single sei of ussumptions and goals. ara. in fact. many new institutionalisms—in cconomics, organization theory, political selence and public choice, history. and sociology—united by little bul a common skcpt icism toward atomistic accounts o! social processes and acommon conviction that institutional arrangcments and social processes matter. In lhis bnefreview, we focus only on a few o! Lhe major Lendencies and contrast dsem with Lhe “ncw institutionaiism” in organizational analysis.3
THF NEW INSTITUTIONAI F.CONOMIC5
lhe analylic tradition initiated hy Coasc (1937, 1960) and reinvigorated by
Williamson (1975, 1985) has been takcn up by economic historians (Noith
1981), students of law and economics (Posner 1981). game theorists (Schoner
1981), and orgarcizational economists (Alchian and Dcmsetz 1972; Nelson and
Wjnter 1982; Groasman and liart I987).
new institutional econonues adds a hcalthy dose o! realism Lo Lhe stand ard assurnptions of mlcrncconomic Lheory. Individuajs aLtempt Lo maximize their bebavior over stable and cousistent preference orderings, bui chcy do 50. institutional cc000mists ergue, inibe face o! cognitive limita, incomplete inform ation, and difficulties in monitonng and cnforcing agrccments. Institutions aflsc and persist when thcy conter benetlts greater than fite transaction cais (tbat
is. ibe costa of negotiatiOn. execution, and enforcemcflt) incurrcd in creating and sustsiniflg rhem.
The new institutioflal economicS takes lhe transaction as lhe primary unit of analysis. The parties lo an exchange wish to economize on transaction costa in a world in which informatiOn is costly. some pcople behave opportuflistiCally. and rationality is bounded. Thc chailenge. then. is co understand how such att ributes of transactions as asset spccificity. uncertaifltY, and frequcnCy give rise lo specilic kinds of economiC institutiOfl$. Accordiflg co organizatioflal econom ista, institutiøfls reduce uncertaiflty by providing dependable and efflcieflt frameworks for cc000miC exchangc (North 1988).
Despite these shared assumptionS there are poinis of divergence even itbin lhe new institucional economics. la particular. therc are differcflCes in treatm enta of transaction costa. contentiOfl over lhe optimalitY of InstitutioflS, and diferencial explanatorY weight given co lhe acate and ideologY. Williamsofl (1985) seca opportufliSm (sclf4ntCrcSt4eckg witb g’uile) as a key souree of transaction costa. By contrast, Matthews (1986) emphasiZea lhe purcly cogn itive costa of organizing and monitoring transactiofls, even when particlpants are honest. North (1984) also defines ransactioii costa more hroadly. vwwtng chem as crie general overhead costs cl maintaifliflg a system of property rights, under conditioflS of growiflg speciali7.atiOn and a complcx division of labor.
Another unresolved issue concernS lhe eztent lo which institutioflS represent optimal responsCS to social necds. Throughout much of this literature there is, lo use Kuran’5 (1988:144) temi. an ai of “optimistiC functiooalism, a mode of explanation whcrehy oulcomes are actributed te their beneficial consequences.” Williamsofl (1985). for csainple. implica that considerahle foresight ia exerc ised iii the dcvclopfficflt oí institutional arrangemeflts and chat compclitiOfl eliminates institutionS that have become inefficient. By contraSt, Akerlof (1976) demonstrates that institutiOnS may persist cven whco they serve no one’s intercstS. For examplc. although everyOne may be worse oh under a caste sys1 cm. racional indivduals may co,npiy with its norma beçause thcy do no( want co risk ostracism. In od’ier worcls. oncc institutiOfls are establishc4i. thcy may pctsi%t CVCO though they are colleetivclY suboptimal (7.uckcr 1986)-
Neison and Winter (1982). who takc an evolutiAnarY approach. vicw instituc ions as cnd products of random variation. seleclioti, and retcntion, rathcr iban individual foresight. Nortb (1988) argues that institutionS are shaped by histori cal factors that limit lhe range of options open co decision makers; thus they pioduce different resulta than those impiied by a theory of unlimittd choices and strategiC responses. Matthews (1986) argue.s that inertia plays an impoltaIit role in institucional persistence. Even whcn inatitutions do nol conforTn co lhe demands o a given enYirOflIfleflt, they may nevertheless cndure bccause. as North suggeSts. lhe prospectiVe gama from altenng them are oucweighesl by lhe costs of making lhe changes. Thus. for Noflh and olheis, lhe transactiOfl costa of institucional change provide institutions with something of a cushion.
North is one of lhe lew economists lo altcnd Lo the importance of idcology and lhe statc in maintaining institutions. As exchangcs among individuais grow more spccialized and conipiex, contracts require third-pany enforeement, a dem and that is met by politicai institutions, which play a posicive role in specifying and enforcing property rights. Bul states vary greatiy in lhe ways they define property rights, and citizens may view political institutions as more or lesa legitimace, depending on cheir idcoiogies. When idcoiogical consensus is high, opportunistic behavior is curhed. When it is low. contracting costs are highcr and more energy is expcndcd on efl’orts at institucional change. Thus ideological consensus representa an efficient substitute for formal ruies.
Tire Posirivt THEQRY ol INS71TIJTIONS
A new instiwtionalism has cmerged in the fleid of policies in reaction lo carlier conceptions of politicai behavior thax werc atomistic not only in their view of action as lhe product of goai-orientcd, racional individuaIs (a position many “positivc tbeorists” ctili sharc) bul in sri abstract, asocial conccption of the contesta in which these goals are pursued. One strand of politicai sciencc institutionaliam(positive theoly) focuses ondomestic political institutions, ano ther (regime tbeory) dcais with internacional rciartions.
Thc positive theory of institutions is concerned with poiitical decision maki ng, especiaiiy lhe ways in which poiiticai structures (or institutions) shape politicai ouccomes (Shepsic 1986). Atomistic versions of social-choice theory, lo which ifus work responds, predicled unstabie and paradoxicai dccisions und er majority voting mies. Yct policicai life is not in constani (lux; indeed, lhe key featurc of U.S. policies is ira pcrvasivc stability (Moe 1987). What, then, accounrs for this stability’ The answer given by institutionalisls in polirical seie nce is that niuch of lhe instabiiity inhereni in pure majority voting systems is eliminated by legisiativc mies.
This approach complenients lhe new institucional economies in il effort to iink actor interests tu politicai outeomes. The institucional arrangcmcnts trial structure U.S. politics are vicwed as responses te collectivc action prohlems, which arise prec-iseiy because Lhe transaction costa of political exchange are high. Shcpsie describcs politiçal instinitions as “ex ante agreemcnts ahout a structurc ofcoopcration’ that “economize on transaction costs, rcducc opport unism and othcr forma ofagency ‘siippage. and thercby enlamee Lhe prospects ofgains through cooperanon” (1986:74). Political institurions thus ctuate stab ility in political life.
Most of lhe positive theorists’ reseazch dcals with the rvlatively fixcd struct ural features of lhe IJ.S. Congreas—lhe agenda powers o! congressionai cornmitíees. and cite mies chia de6ne Iegislativc procedures and comniittccjur isdierions (Riker 1980; Shepale and Weingast 1981. 1987; Weingast and Marshall 1988). lhe pubiic-choice modela chia inlorm this wodc givc spçcial promincncc tu Lhe niechanics o! legislating, for example. lhe distribution of
agenda-sctting powcrs the sequence in which proposais inust be made. and the allocation of veto rights (Sbepsle and Weingast 1987; Ostrom 1986; Sheps)e 1986, 1988). Modeling in lhis tradition often employs principal-ageflt imagery lo examine Lhe cfforts of coe pohticai actor (e.g., a congressioflal subcotnmitI ce) to control anothcr (e.g.. a federal agency).
Tbe general picture provided by this insightfui une of work is ODC in which congrcssinflal policy is highly dependem on Lhe agenda-scttiflg powcrs inherent in legislatiVe rules. lhe ezp)anatiofl of Lhe powerful gatckeeping role playcd by legislative eomminees resides in the rules govcrrnng the sequcnce of pruposi ng. amending, and especially of vetoing Lhe legislative process” (Shepslc and Weingast 1987:86). Tbe saucture of political rules is fairly resilient lo lhe ebbs and flows of Lhe agendas of politicianS, and lhe rales can casily use on wben lhe origina) supporl for them wanes. As a rcsult. legislative rules are scen as robust, rcsistant in Lhe short mii Lo political pressures. and in lhe long rim. syslemali caiiy constraining lhe oplions decision makcrs are frec Lo pursue.
Political tcientist Terry Moe lias chidcd rational-choice institutioaalism for empbasii.ing Lhe formal mechanisms of legislalive control lo lhe cxclusiofl of indiject, unintentioflal. and syslemiC zncthods (Moe 1987:291). Missang from lhe positive theory’s modais of mies and procedures are lhe dynamic. mfonnal features of institutions. In an insightful analytic history of lhe National Labor Relations Board. Moe demonstrates how lhe agency transformed its ownpolitic al environmeflt, and highiights Lhe vital mutual dependcnce that devcloped helwccrt Lhe NLRB and lis conslitUCntS. He also emphasizes Lhe role of inform al norma and standards of profcssionaiiSm in shaping the boards relationship rth Congrcss. Nevexibelesa. Moe concludes thst. despile ita (laws. Lhe ncw institutionalisin in poiitics and economica promises tu provide agenerai rationalc hoice theory of social institutionS. We are somewhat less optimistic. in part because Moe’s ecdlleflL work demonstrates LhaL chia approach focuses on only lhe more formal and lixed aspccts of the political pruceas. While some concern is evinced for how unstiLutions emerge. most of the anaiyses treal niles and proc edures as exogenous dctcrmiflaflts of political bchavior.
The second strand ofpolitical scicnce’S new institutionalism lias emerged in lhe field of intennationaJ relations. Ilere scholars havc rejected a once popular anarchic view of untennational reiations and base explored Lhe conditions under which international cooperation occurs. and cxamined Lhe instituLiuiis (reg imes) that promole cooperation (Krasner 1983; Keohanc 1984. 1988; Young 1986). International regimes are multilateral agreemenis, aL once resu)ting from and faciiitating cooperative behavior. by means of which sLates rcgulate Ibeir relalions witb coe anoiber within a particular issue ares. Some of these internat ional unstitutiofls (e.g.. Lhe UniLed Nations or Lhe Vkrld Hank) are formal organizations. othcrs. suei as lhe intennational regime for money and trade Lhe
- ...i Tff nmn1ex seIs of mies.
standards. and agencies. Regimes are institutions in (hat they build upon. hom ogenize, and reproduce standard expectations and. in ao doing, stabilize Lhe inlemational order.
The initial work on regimes bolTowed freely from Lhe language and concept ual artillery of game theory and institutional economics and took scareitv and competition lo be basic features of lhe international system. Nation-statea were regarded as sclf-unterested utility maximiscra that ncvertheless expericnced powerful incentives Lo cnter into constraunung agrccmenls in order Lo maximize their lnng-term wclfare (Young 1986. If no beneflts were realized from internat ional agreementa or if cooperation could be sustained without cosi. international regimes would no arisc. lhe logie is similar Lo that of work on domestie politics: regimes appeared whenevcr Lhe costa of communicalion. monitoring, and enforeement were low compared lo Lhe benefits denived. Thus, natrons. in an effort lo realize joini gains. agree lo hind themselves tu regirnes chat suhsequenlly limir thcir frecdorn ofaction.
More recently. international rclations scholars have come lo question thc vaiu c of Lhe ralional-actor approach Lo intennational inatitutions. As Kec,hane (1988:388) paiois oat. iL “leaves open Lhe issue of what kinds of institutions wili develop, Lo whose benefit, and how effective they will be.” Clearly many intennational institutions are no opiimally eflicieni and. wene they Lo be recons tructed de nowl, would undouNedly look quite different. Imperfect regimes survive nonctheless because sunk cosas, vesled interests. and Lhe difficulty of concciving ofaltennatives make It sensihle lo maintain Lhcm.
l)issatisfaction with Lhe rational-actor approach has lcd some schulars Lo dcv elop a more sociological line of unquiry. which recognizes that institulioris do notmerely reflect lhe pi-clerences and power of the units constiluting them; Lhe inslilutions themselves shapc Lhose preferences and that power” (Keohanc 1988:382; are also Kratochwil and Ruggie 1986; Krasncr 1988). Iii this more process-oniented view, institutions constitute actors as wcll as constrain them. and interesis emerge within particular normative and hislorical contexts. Viid crstanding lhe way policymakcrs think about untennalional rules and siandarda, and lhe political discounscs Lhey employ, is critica! to any analysis of inlennational politics.
Both lhe rslional-actor and more sociological approaches tu inlernational inS titUiions are betier developcd theoretically than cmpinically: ther-c is little research on why regimes develop iii some issue areas rather than oihcrs; nor do we know what factora expIam regime persistcnce.5 What is appanenl is thai inl ematiorial rcgimes are durable institutions that shape and constnajn lhe relalions among sIates, and that underslanding how suei institutions develop. persist. and expire is ao important ta.sk.
Poi,.rrs o1 DIVFRC.ENCE
Tbe dispanities among Lhe vanious appnoathcs are nicely illustrated by their
Varying definitions of an ,nçtmlrinn Pnii.l in rh. fmn,I
choiceIgaIflC4he0TCtc tradition view ins(itUtlOflS as temporarilY “congcaled tastes” (Riker 1980), frameworks “of rulcs, procedures and arrangemeiits” (Shcpsle 1986), ar “prescriplions about which actions are required. prohibited. ar pcrmitted” (Ostrom 1986). The new institutionai economics. particuiariy lhe branch iocated in economic history, contends that “institutiOfl arc regularities in repetitive interactions, . . . customs and rules that provide a set of incent ives and disinccntivcs for individuais” (North 1986:231). The ecooomics o! organizaliOn coflceives o! institutions as governance stntctures, social arrangem ents geared Lo minimize transactiofl costs (Walliamson 1985).
tu Lhe inlernational relations literature, regimcs are dciined as “scts of imp licit ar explicil principies. norms, rules. and decision-making procedures around which actors’ expectations convcrge in a given arca of international rel ations” (Krasner 1983:2). What djstinguishcs this une of reseazeh from rational-choiCe approaches is its specilicaliy normative eiemcnt__standards o! behavior are defincd in teima of customa and obligations. a focas that drawS titia work much cioser to the saciologicai tradition. Indeed. Young’S (1986:107) dcfinition o! au instiwtiofl— - “rccognizcd practiecs consisting o! easily identif iable roles, couplcd with coilections of roles ar conventions goverfling relations asnong thc occupants o! these roles” — is consonaflt with much recent work in socioIogy.
As we move from Lhe new institutionaliSm in economies and public choice to lhe new institutionalism in regime theory and organizatiOfl theory. the temi in.sritution takcs on a dilfcrent mcaning. inibe fornier approaches. institutions are Lhe producis o! hunian design, Lhc outcomcs o! purposive actions by instrum entally oriented individuais. flui lo Lhe latier, whuie institutionh are certainly lhe rcsult of huinan aciivity. they are not necessarily lhe products o! conscious design.
Considei’ the institution of sovereign statehood, a more than three-hundredy ear-old notion that deveiopCd slowly over Lhe course o! centuries. The princ ipie o’ sovercignty is well understood—it implies reciprocity among nations tates, ii creates wclklefined roles and statuse5. and ii implies mcmbcrship in lhe internationai systcm. But lhc institutiOfl o! lhe modero sovcrelgfl state is not iraceable tolhe conscious ctlortS of specific social groups. Nor is lhe coiiipltXi ty of thc modem state easily decomposabie into smaller units o! analysiS; nor can it be adequateiy described by simpie aggregatiofl techniques. indeed, such institutiofls are relatively constant in lhe face of considerable turnover among individual members and officeholdeis. and are ofien resilient lo the idiosynerati c demanda of those who wish lo influence thcm.
The new institutionalism in organi7.atiOfl theory and sociology coniprises a rejection o! rational-actOr modeis, an interest in institutionS as indcpcndeflt vari abics, a turn toward cognitive and cultural explanations. and au interest iii properties of supraindividual units o! analyais that cannot be reduced tu agg regations or direct consequences o! individuais’ attributes ar motives. lo lhe
sociolugical tradition. institutionaliza(ioa is both a “phenomcnological proccss by which certain social relationships and actions come Lo bc taken for granted” and a srare of affairs in which sharcd cognitions define “what lias meaning and what actions are possible” (Zucker 1983:2). Whereas economista and pubuicc heire theonsts often treat instirujion and convennon as synonyms, soeiologists and organization theorists restriel lhe former temi lo those conventions tirai, far from bcing peiteivcd as mere conveniences, “take ou a rulclike status in social thoughl and action” (Meyer and Rowan. eh. 2; Jepperaou, eh. 6; Douglas 1986:46—48).
In titia scnsc. then, Lhe sociologicai approach lo insrirutions is more res trictivc than lhaL o! economics and puhuic choice: only certain kinds o! conventions qualify. On lhe other hand. wilh respect lo Use sorts of things that may be insti(utionaiizcd, sociology is much more encompassing. Whereas most economista and political scicntists focus exciusively ou economic or poliri cal roles o! Use game, sociologists find instirutions cvetywhcre, froni handshakes lo mairiages to straicgic-planning dcpartmcnts. Morcovcr. soc iologisis view behaviors as poentially institutionalizablc over a widc territorial range, from underatandinga within a single famuiy lo myths o! rat ionalily and progress in the world system (Meyer and Rowan, eh. 2).
The new instiutionalism in organization theory tends tu focus on a broad bur finite sliee of sociology’s institutional cornucopia: organizational structures and processes that are industrywide. national or intemational acape. lndeed, Lhe new institutionaiism in organiz.ational analysis takes as a atarting point lhe striki ng homogeneity o! practices and arrangements found in lhe labor markei, in schools. slates. and corporations (DiMaggio and Powell, ch. 3; Meyer and Rowan, ch. 2). The constant and repentive quatity o! much organized life is explicable nor simpiy by reference tu individual, maximizing actors but rather by a view that locates lhe persistence o! practices in baUs lheir raken-for-granted quality and tbeir reproduction lo structures (bar are to some extent sei!s ustaining (scc Zucker, eh. 4).
A second dividing une among lhe various “institutionalisnis” !ollows from these dctinitional differcnces. Do institucions refleel prcfcrcnccs o! individuais or corporatc acturs, or do they represent coilective ouconses that are not Lhe simple sum o! individual interests7 Most instilulional economista and publicc hoice thcorists assume that actors Construct institutions tha( achieve Lhe 0w- comes thcy desire, rarely asking wbcre preferences come from or considering feedback mechanjsms between interests and institutions. To be sure, actors’ opt ions are licnited by sunk Costa in exising arrangemcnis, and lheir strotcgics may evcn yicld unintended effects. Bul lhe thrust o! these approacbes is Lo view instilutional arrangements as adaptive solutions lo prohlems of opportuiiisni, mperfect ar ssymmetrjc information, and costly monitoring.
The more socioiogicaliy onented branch of institutioualism rejects (bis one ntatic>n for several reasons. Fina, individuaIs do not choase freely among
institutiflS, CUstoma, SOCIal aOrms, or legal procedures. One cannot decide lo gel a divoree in a new manfler, or play cbess by different rules, or opi OUL of paying taie.s. OrganizatiOn theorists prefer modela nol of choice but of takenf or-granted expectatiOflS assumiflg that actots associate certain actions with certain situations by jules of appropriatCnCS (March and Olsen 1984:741) aba orbed through socialiraliOfl. educalion, on-tbe.ioi) )earning. or acquIcsCenCe lo coflVCfltÍOfl. individuais face choieCS ali lhe time, hut in doing ao they aeek guidanCe from the experiences ol others in comparablC situat jons and li referc oce to standards ofobligatiOn.
Morcover. sociologiCai institutionalists qucstiOfl whcther individual choices and prcfereflCes can be properly understoOd outside of the cultural and histori cal frensewOrkS in which they are embedded. People iii djfferenl societiesot rnstltutioflal domains. ai differcflt limes, hold varymg assumplions aboul the intcrcSts that molivatc lcgitimate actiOfl. lhe SUSpiCCS under which pcr%onS or coilectives may ad, and lhe forma of action that are approprlate The very not ion of rational choice reficctS mudem secular rituais and mytha thal constitutC and constrain lcgilimale actiøfl (ice ieppersOfl and Meyer, ch. 9fricdiafld and Alford. ch. 10).
A rhird point of contentiOn betweeli ibe oconomicIPUb1ic0 and SOi ological variants of institUtiOfl theory Conccnis lhe aut000my, plasticity. and cfliciencY of institutions. Do nstituliOfls adapt to individual interests and tes pond lo exogeflOus changc quickly. or do they evolve glaciallY and iii ways dm1 are not typicallY ancipatcd?
Some nstitutionalis1s lo political acience and cc000miCS recOgflize that ins titu(iOflS are not higbly maileable. InstitutlOna) arrangeIfleflt constr5ifl individual bebaviOr by renderiflg some choiCeS unviable, prccluduig particular Courses of action, and resuainiflg certaiji pauenn of resource allocatiofl. For example. Shcpsle (1956. 1989) has argucd tImi such political 05itutionS as Congress’S cominitlee structUre and lIs scniority system must be obdurate if poli ticians are ia make crediblC comniilmCnt And eçonomisti Richard Nelson and Sidney Wintcr (1982) emphaiizc lhe role oF rules, norma, and culturc in organiZatiOflal change and expIiCitlY disavow lhe VW thirt markel competitioTl ensures lhe selcelion of eflicient orgaflizatiOnal struCtUreS and processeS. Bur such work. although importaflt. is something of an exceptiOfl most puhlicc hoice theorists and econonhisis who study instilutiOns view ibem as provisiona l, tcmporaiY rcsting places on lhe way to an ellicieflt equilibriulfl solution.
Organizational sociologiSts find adaptive sloryteiliflg lesa persuasive. lo thcir view. bchavio(S and structufes that are are ordinanly slower to changC lhan (bote that are nol. 1ndccd, givcn lhe distioCtion bet ween coflvCfltiOO and nsljlUtiOfl nned ahoVC. (bis S almos$ a mattcr of definition.) SociolOgiStS concur wilh rational-ChOICC schoiars rhat technical inc erdependenCe and pbysical sunk COSIS are partlY responslble for institUtiOnOt lhe onlv. em lhe niost iniportaflt. factorS. lnstitu
ionalizcd arrangements are reproduced hecause individuais often cannot even conccive of appropriaie alternatives (or because they regard as unrealistie the alrcrnatives (bey can imagine).7 lnstitutions do 001 just constrain opuons: thcy estabiish Lhe vcry criteria by which people discover their preferences. lo olhem words, some of the most importam sunk cOStS are cognilive
When organizational changc doca occur ir is likeiy lo bc cpisodic and dramati c. respondmg lo institutional change aI lhe macrolevei, ratber than incremental and smoo(h. Fondamental change occurs under conditions in which che social arrangements that have buttresscd institutional regimcs suddenly appear probI einatic (see Powdll, ch. 8). Whcrcas cconomists and political scientists offcr functional cxpianations of lhe ways ia which institutions represenr efficien soi utions to problema of govemnance, sociologists rejecr functional explanations and focus instead on lhe ways ia which institutions complicate and constitute lhe palhs by which solunons are sought.
Tbe New Ins(ftutlonallsin and
the Soclological Tradltion
The new institutionalism ia organii.ational analysis bar a distinctly sociological flavor. This perspective emphasizes the ways in which action is structured and ordcr made possible by shared systems of reles that both coos train lhe inclination and capacity of actors to optimize as weil as privilege some groups who.sc interests are sccumed by prcvailing rcwanis and sanclions. Ycr neoinsticulionalism in organizational analysis is nol simply lhe old aoc iology in a relabclcd bottle; it diverges lo systemauc ways from earlier sociological approacbcs ro organizarions and institutions. To explicate ibese diffcrcnces. wc hcgin this section wi(h ao account aí lhe rclationship betwecn neoinsritutionalism and Use old institutionalism iii organization rheoty. Thisdisc ussion ieads to a consideration of aflinities between lhe new institurionalism and broader currents in Anglo-American and continental social rheory. particui arly (o developments in lhe thcory ofaction.
Tua NF.w INSIITLJT1ONAI.ISM
AND TIIE OLO
Jf, in rctrospcct, une couid assign a birth date Lo thc new institutionalism iii organizational studies. it would have lo be 1977, Use year ia which khn Meyer published wo seminal papers,”The Effects aí Iducation as an lnstitution’ and “Iflstilutjonalized Organizations: Formal Strueturc as Myth and Ceremony” (wjth Brian Rowan, eh. 2). which sei ou( niany of thc central components of neoinstitutional thought. To be sure. some of diese ideas were visible in Meyer’s origoing research on lhe world system (Meyer and Hannan 1979); Some appear in bis brjlljant papem on school ‘charlcr cffccts” in a 1970 edited coilection; and Meyer’s preoccuparion with macro influences on local phe
nomcna is evident iii bis early work on otCLiUal cffectS in organizationa) rescarch (1968). Thc 1977 paper and the fnútful collaboration betwcenMeYtr and W. Rchan2 Scott that followcd (19831)). clanftcd and develoPed institUt ional pnnciplcs iii lhe contcXt of formal organiZaÜ0I. By 1985. when Lynne Zucker convened a small conferelice on lhe subject ai UCLA (Zucker 1987), lhe number of acholara intrigued by thc effectS of culture. ritual. cercrnOflY. and higher-leVel atructUren on organil.atiofls had reached a sufliciCflt mana for neoi flStULIOfldt theory to bc named and tcit)ed.
traces its roots to ibe oId 5titutionalism of Philip Se(znick and lua associal. yet diverges from that traditiofl substafltia1lY (uce Selznick 1949. 1957; and, for an appreciaUve boi critica) overi. eh. 5 of PerrOW 1986). oth lhe old and ncw approachcs abare a skepbCiSfll toward ratiofla1aCtr modeis of organiZatiOu. and cacb viewS insfiWtiofla1j0l as a staLedePCfldht poccSS that makeS organiZai0flS leas instrumcnodlY rationai by limiting thc options thcy can pursuC. 13o(b cmphasii.C lhe rclationship bet ween orgafliZat0S and their env nrncntS, and boih proniise to reveal aspcCtS of reality that are inconaiStem with organizationa’ formal accoufliS. Iiach app roach atresseS the role of cultUre iii ahapiflg organtiatioflal reality.
Givcn lhe deCldCdly ratiunai and maierialist cast of most alternative app roaches to organi7ati0S. these sinúlariües evince much contifluitY betWeefl lhe old jnstjtutioOalism and the ncw. Yet lhe Iatter dcpartS from the former in signific&*nt ways (sumlnafiied in table 1.1). In describiflg the.sc diffctenceS, we cmphasizc core features.. oí coursc. individual exceptions caiu be found.9
Thc old nstitutionSm was straightf0twalY poliucal in ‘ia analysis of group conlhCl and organiZatioflal strategy ‘flue lcadershiP o( lhe Tcnne%s VaiI ey Authc(itY, for examplC, co.optcd externa1 cottstituencies intcntiona)1Y. trading off lis acalora’ more poputist agricultura1 designa ro prottCt the rural e1eCtrifiCatni progtalfl (SeIZTIiCk 1949). By contrast, lhe ncw inxtitULiOflalsm luas usually downplaYnd çonffiCt5 of intcrcSt within and bctween organiZatiOflS or cIte noted how ozaniZatiOflS respond to sucb confiictsbY develOpiflg highly elaboratC adminiSUaLi’C stfllctures (sec Scott and Meycr. ch. 5). kithough. as wc note below. instiluliona) and political approaches Lo organhiaflottal change are beginnifl8 lo come mIo ftuitful dialogue. thc focus in lhe initial work was co
aspecta of jnstitulioflS dual tesd to preveni actors from rccognizifl8 or acting upan their intcrcsts (niMaggio 19888).
It folloWS that altbough lhe old and new appxoache.S agree that institUt ionahZatiOfl constrailuS organizational saüonalitY. they idcotify differeflt sounxs of cons(raiilt. with lhe older emphaSizin8 lhe vesting of interesis within organizatiofls a.s a result o! political tradcoffS and altiances. and lhe new stressi ng ibe re1atiOnSiP bctweefl stability and lcgitimaCY and lhe power of “commOfl pdcrsiafldiflgs that are scldom cxplicitlY ariculatCd” (ZuckCT
Thcse differenCet are rcflected in thc trcatineflt of orgaflizi*tloulal strUctUIC in
lhe Lwo traditions. The old institutionalism highlightcd Lhe shadowland of inf ormal intcraction” (Sefenick 1949:260)—iníluence patterns. coalitions and diques. particularislic elcments in recruitineni or pronlouon botlt lo iliustrate how lhe infoanai structurC$ deviated frum and constraincd aipccts o! formal structure and lo demonutrate lhe subverion of Lhe flrgafli7.alion’S intcndcd, rat ional mission by paruchial interests. The ncw instituticinatism, hy contrast. locates irrutionality in lhe formal structurc itself, attribuling thc diffusion of certain departmcnts and opcrating procedures te interorganizanonal influences. conformity, and Lhe persuasiveneas of cultural accounta. rather than tolhe func— tiOns they are intended te perform (Mcyer and Rowan, DiMaggio and Powell. this vol.).
Another fundamental difference bctwccn lhe two institutionalisms is in their conceptualizacion of lhe environment. Auduora of oldcr (Selznick 1949:
Gouldner l954: Dakon 1959; Clark 1960a) dcscribc organizations dual are emb cdded iii local cornmunitict. te which thcy are ticd by lhe multiple Ioyalties of pcrsonnel and by incemrganiz.ational treaties (“co-optation’) hammered oul in face-to-face interactjon. The new institutjonalism focuses instead co nonlocal Cflvironmcnts, either organizaiioual sectors or tlelds roughly cotermmous with lhe boundazics of industries, professiona, or nalional societies (Scotl and Mcyer, eh. 5). Environmcnts, in duis vicw. are more subde in their inhluence; rathcr than being co-opted by organizations. lhey penetrate lhe organizacion. crcating lhe lesses thruugh which acIma view Lhe world and lhe very categories Oftjct action, and thought (see pari 2).
Cvnflcts aí isirian Ccetral Pcnphrril
Sowec aí monha Suuuural c.nphasn Veued ..Iaen8
ln(un.ial uuehuc Lcgit.macy mmpcrativc Synibohc rck of formal
pnir.aIIeni errbeddcd ai
Naiure aí emumeddodnesn
Locus o! .nuaaiionalizabon
Basis aí cntqie o! ucilitar- iarusm
bvideiice for critique aí utilitananism
Kcy iarnit o! conitiun
Cagnitivc baia ai unk,
Agenda bical cumnmuahIy Cu’upauua Orgaizahiali Chanr
•Fbeo., o! iirs* agrga.
PoIicy rrlcsuucc niiUCtIUe
Hei.). .cax, ar wvtey
Fiel.) .x sacicty
nircey aí actj*,n
CIasflca.-,.ia. roulinc.. acnpts, schcma
HaIti. praciical amor
Becaise mstitutionalizatiofl was a proccas ii which onstraifliflg relatiO4lS with local constituencies cvolved over lime. oldu instiWtiOflattS regardcd osg anizatioflS as both tbe unha that wcre instiWtiOlta1iZ and lhe key loci of lhe pioceSS. By contraSt. neoinSlUtiO view instiWtionaliZa0n as occijrflng as lhe sectoral os societai leveis, and consequefltly interorgaflizati0 in locus. OrganhZatiOflal forms, stjuctwal compofleflta. and roles. not spcciflc organizau ons, are institutiOnafl7ed. Thus whcreas thc oid institutiOflalism viewed organizatiOfls as organiC whølCS. the new tnstitutioflallsm treats them as Iooscly coupled arrays of standardiznd elementa.
Other important differeflCCS foflow from titia: instifl onaization. in lhe older view, established a uniqUe organizatioflal “character . . crystallized thwugb the preservaflOn of cuslo’fl and preccdeflt” (SelzniCk 1949:182, 1957:38—55). Rootcd in ego psychology. the notioli of character implied a high dcgree of symboiiC and funetiOflai consistcflCY withifl each institutiOfl. Moreo ver, bccausC lhe charactetf0fl1tt00 procesa oçeratcd ai lhe orgarnl.atiOflal leveI, i could only increase in1erorgan1Zati0 divcrsity. inibe new view, ins ututiorlaiiZatiOn tends to reduce vaflcty, operatlflg acrOsS osganizatiofls 10 override diversity iii local enviroflments (DiMaggiO and Powell, eh. 3; but see Zucker’s postscTiptto eh. 4 and Scott, ch. 7). Tbe organiZatiOfl’S standardized compOflefltS howcVer, are looscly coupied. ofttn displayiflg minimal t’unct ionai intcgratiofl (Meyer and Rowafl. ch. 2). No only does flCOhflsutuuo4lalIsm cmphasiZe thc homogefleitY of orgaflizaliofls ii siso tcnds tu stress lhe stabiity of in.stitutiOnaliZC compOflefltt (Zucker. eh. 4). By contraSt, for lhe old institUt ionaliam, change was an endemie part of lhe orgarntatiofl’S evolving adaplive re)ationship toits local cnviroflifleflt (SelZniCk 1957:39).
AlthoUgh both old and new institutionalisma rejcct a view of organizatioflal bebavior as merelY the sum f individual actions. they do so on quite differe ni grounds. For lhe old lhe problem is less with lhe assumI)1 km tbat individuais possue material and, espcciallY. ideal interests (dcfmed. of course. more broadlY than in utililariafl thought)—Se121i’5 bureaUÇ and local influenhiala were canny. if foi always successful, strategtsts-4han with thc notion that such individual striving lcads to organizationai ratioflality.
Ralher, organiz.atiOttS are “recalcitrant boIs.” and efforts to direct ibem yicid ‘unanflcipated consequences” beyofld anyone’S control. By compar sois, lhe ncoinstitUtiOflai15t rejcctiof) of intcfltiOfla1iY is founded on an alternative theory of individual actiofl. wbich siresses lhe unreflective, routine, taken.fOr-graid fature of most human behavior and vicws interests and actors as themselveS consiituted by institutiofls (are chapters by JepperSofl and Zucker).
(Jnderiying tbcse differeflcCs is a considerable gulf betweefl old and new in ibeir conCCptiolS of the cultural. or cogflitive. bases of institutioisaiized behavi or. For Lhe old Institutiooa.liSts. lhe s IiefltcOgflutiSt forma werc values, noiITIS. nd attitudes. Organizations became inatitutiOOa1I7d when they wcre ‘infused
n institution undcrwent “socializaUon.” which ind lo “intcrnarionalizatinn” oforganizational values, expcrienccd as “comniitment.’
The new instilulionalism departs marlcedly from this esaenlially moral frarne of reference. ‘institutionalization is fundarncntally a cognitive process” (Zucker 1983:25). “Normative obligations . . . enter mio social life primarily as facts” that adora must take mio aecoant (Meyer and Rowan, ch. 2, titis vol.). Not norms and values but taken-for-granted scripts, roles, and classifications are lhe stuff of which institutions are made. Ralher lhan concretc organir.alions eliciting affective commilmcnt. institutions are macrolevel abstractions, “rat ionaiized and impersonal prescriptions” (Mcycr and Ruwan, eh. 2), shared “iypifications.” independeni of any particular entity lo which moral allegiance might be owed. Neoinstitutionalists tend lo rejeci socialization thcory. with ita affectively “hot” imagcry of identification and intemalization. They prefer cooler implicit psychologies: cognitive models iii which achemas and scripta lcad decision makers lo resisi new evidence (Abclson 1976: Cantor and Mischel 1977; Bower, Black, and Turncr 1979; Taylor and Crocker 1980; Kiesicr and Sproul 1982): Iearning theories ibai emphasize how individuais organize inform ation with lhe assistance of social categories (Rosch cl aI. 1976; Rosch 1978; Fiske 1982; Fiske and Pavelchak 1986; Kulik 1989); and attribution ihcory, where actors infer motives p051 hoc from menus of legitimate accounts (Bem 1970: Kelly 1971).
INSTITUTIONAI.ISM AND rita Tocosi’
The differenccs between the old and new institutionalisms in analytic focus. approach tolhe environment, views of confiei and change, and imagcs of individual action are considerable. l’hey are ali lhe more siriking because they are so seldom noted: far from offenng a sustained critique of lhe old institut ionalism, neoinstitutionalists, when they refer to their predecessors. tend tu acknowledge continuity and clide points of divergence (but see Zucker 1983:6:
What, then. is lhe basis of this pmfound changc’ To some exteni, this shift in thcorctica] focus rctiects historical changes that have transferrcd formal authori ty and organizing capacity frons local elites lo more “macro” leveIs (see Scott and Meyer, eh. 5). But this is only part of Lhe story. Equally únportant is a dram atic transformation in lhe way in which social scientists have come to think about human motivation and bchavior. lhe last two decades have wjtnesscd a cogniiivc tum in social Lheory, a sea change comparablc lo lhe rejection ofutiliL arianism by ium-of-the-cenlury thcorists (Parsons 1937). The current devclopincnts reprcscnt a shift from Parsonsian action thcoiy, rooted in I4cudi- an ego psychology. te a theory of practical action hascd in ethnomethodology and in psychology’s “cognitive revolution.”° Although organizational anal ysts have often been in the vanguard in applying this new theoiy of action tu
There lias heen little effort lo niake neoinstitutionalism’s microfoundalions explicit (bul soe Zucker 1987. ch. 2). MosI institutionalisis prefer to focus on lhe strueture of environrnents, macro- lo microlevel effecls, and Lhe anal ytic autonomy of macrostructures. Yet il is importani, wc believe. (o develop a social psychological underpinning ia order to highuigh bo(h gross differences bc(ween institutional and rational-actor models. and more subtle departures froni established traditions in sociology and from such approaches lo oranizational analysis as resource dependencc and strategic contlngency theoncs.
We agree that the macro side of ncoinstitutionalism. which is set oul in detati by Lhe contributions ia paris 1 and 2. is central. Yet any macrosociology rest.s on a microsociology, however tacit; much of lhe distinctiveness of neoinstitutioflal work follows from its implicit imagcs (which constitute lhe rudiments, ai ieast, of a ‘thcoiy of aclion’ in Parsons’ sense) of actors’ motives, orientations tow ard action, and lhe contexts in which lhey ac. II follows from this that to undcrstand neoinstitutiolialism, it is nccessary lo bring thcse assumptions Lo Iight. ‘
Thc work of Selznick and bis coileagues bears a strong afllnity toParsonsian theoiy—not Pai-sons’ work on organizationS (1956) but lhe middle Parsons of lhe “general theoiy of action” (1951; Prsons and Shils 1951). ‘ That theory was inftuenced profoundly by Parsons’ reading of 1eud, whom he viewcd as converging with Durkheim “in Lhe undcrstanding of lhe intemalization of cull ura! norms and social objects as part of lhe pcrsonality” (1937:11).
lt is from Freudian object-relationS theory ihat Pai-sons denved his emphasis on internalization. coinmitment, and lhe infusion of objecís with value, alI ibemes that are also promincn( in Seiznick’s work. In Pai-sons mudei, lhe retan onship between parent and child serves as a prototype for social interactiOn. Tbe inclination lo conform to others’ expectations arises from lhe child’s “overw hclming sensitivity lo tbe reaction of significanl adult objects” (Pai-sons and Shils 195 1:17). The mother’s breast is lhe first objeel of cathectic attachmenl. bui lhe child gradually learns lo generalize needs from creature gratifications to socio-emotioflal rcwards. and objects ofcathexis from parents to o(hcr persons and. eventually, moral abstractions. With socio-emotional rewards as a lure, the child intemalires parental value-oricntations and “introjects’ standards of evaluation for lhe performance of roles, such that propcr perfonriance, by Lhe self as well as by odiers, is seen as rewarding ia its own right (Pai-sons 1951:201-48). Equipped with such values and needs-dispositions. as weil as command of a symbolic system that rendera communication possible. children grow mIo adulthood ready and able lo conform tolhe expcctations of altera and to play ilie social roles mio which lhey have been casl. Tbe intcgratioo of valueo rienlations within a collcctivily is postulaled as a functional tmperaflvc: mies are only “institutionalizcd when they are fully congruous with the prevailing ,-.,tn,r. rt.’rn and are oraanized around expectaliofls 0tc0uu1’0mtY ‘jdt m0
ally sunctioncd patterns of vaiue-ocientations shared by members uf lhe collectivity” (Pai-sons and Shiis 195 1:23). “Institucional intcgration.” that is. “lhe integration of a sei of common value pstterns with lhe inwrnalized needd isposition strUcl.ure of the constituent personality,” is lhe “core pbenomcnon” aI Lhe base of social order (Parsons 1951:42).
This telegrammatic condensation hardly does justice lo lhe richness and ing enuity of Parsons’ account. Some of what we have left out—the numerous pointa aI which Pai-sons inlroduces oppottunities for conflict or fluidity mIo his system, or his discussions uf additional mcchanisms that complemem norm ative consensus ia ensuring social order—need fluI detain us hei-e. What is worth noting is that lhe grounding of buman behavior in morality and commitm enl. this selective inherilance from Freud, does not. as Pai-sons (1951:12) claims, emerge naturally from lhe action frame of reference: rather, it reflects a reductive strategy that minimizes crucial elements in Pai-sons’ own deflnition of cullure.’4 Ibe roads nol laken would have ied co an enhanced appreciation of lhe pureiy cognitive aspect of routine social behavior.
in keeping wilh his tripartite scheme of orieniations (oward action, Pai-sons initially describes cullure as including a cognitive realm (compnsing ideas and hclicfs), a cathectic (aftcctive!expressive) dimension, and an evalualive elem enl (cOnsisling of value-orientations). Each of these aspects of culture could serve as objecta of orientation o,. by contrast. could be internalized as cons litutive of onentations toward action. This schcma is rich and sufficicntiy multidimensional to provide a hasís for an exhaustivc analysis of Lhe ways in which cugnition. affecl, and valuca influcncc and are implicaled in behavior (J. Alexander 1983). In devcloping lhe framework, howcver. Parsons makcs a ser ica of rcductive moves Ilial Iruncale radically Lhe scopc of his discussion. Of (hese, threc are critical. First, culture as an object of orientation existing ousidc lhe actor is dismissed in favor of culture as an internalired element of lhe pers onality syslem. thus blocking analysis of Lhe stralcgic use of cullure in pursuing desired ends. Second, wilhin culture’s constilulivc mude, Pai-sons shifts altention from cognilive to evaluative aspects by stztssing “lhe intern alizalion ofvalue-orienlalions” and placing lhe inculcation of inslitutionalized role expectations aI lhe center of analysis (Pai-sons and Shils 1951; Pai-sons 1951:37). Finally, cognition and cathexis are for most purposes conflaled to a hybnd “cathectic-cognitive orientation” toward lhe siluation of action lhat “aIw ays entails expeclations coneerning gratifications or deprivations” (Pai-sons and Shils 1951:11, 68—69). Thus Parsons rules oul analysis of affecüvely and evaluatively neutral, taken-for-granted aspects of routine behaviorex cathedra, apparently for no belter reason lhan co simplify che conslruction of bis sis pat1 cm variables, co which “culure” is evcnlually hirther reduced. ‘l’he resull is lhat Pai-sons’ break with uti!itarianism is incomplete.’5 Action remains rational in lhe sense thal it comprises lhe quasi-intentional pursuit of gratificalion by reasoning hunsans who balance complex and rnukifaceled evaluative cnteria.
Parsofls estabhshcd a mukidinleflSioflal paradigm that embraced thc affectivc and evaluative dimensionS of actors’ orientatiOlls. and an unprecedentedlY lop histicaled forro of role theory that linked individual and socictal leveis of analysiS. 14e moved beyoad narrow instrumental rationalilY. transcended Lhe facile dichotofllY betweefl passionS and intereStS, and endogeniZed and soc iahzed motivatlofl. These are no mcan feats: bui ai Lhe phcnomeflological lcvcl. ia omittiflg lhe processeS of cognitioti and adoptiflg the stylizcd ego-alter par-adigm he reproduced u,ilitarianism’S “as-ir stylc of reasoning and its rhct nnc of gi-atificatiOns and choice. lt would be leu lo phenomeflOIOSY and cthflom ethodologY to explore lhe aspect of culture (Cicourel 1974; Heritage 1984. eh. 2). 16
To sumfl1aflze, Paxsons solutiofl was incomplete for three reasons. First, he focused on lhe evaluative almost Lo the exclusiOn of lhe cognitive or cathectiC aspccts of culture and activnorientati0fl.’7 Second, he implicitlY trcated aclion as occurring as ii it wcre the product of a discursivelY rcasoning agcnt.’8Third he assumed much more stringeflt requiremefltb for boih intra- and intersubjeCt ive consisteflCy (haia recent work in psyehotogy has shown lo be Lhe case.
These problems follow less from lhe analysis of the unit ad attbe bcart of bis theory than from Lhe model’s grounding in personality psychology. He can hardly be blame4 for this, for he wrote before psychologY’S cognitive revolut jon revised earlier imageS ai consciouSfless. His view of self. cuiltire, and socêety as morally integrated entities and bis definition of institutiOns as a “SySt em o! regulatOry norma, ai rules gOverniflg actiOflS in pursUil of immcdiate ends in ternas o! their conformity with the uhinaate çoinnion value-system o! lhe coinmuflitY” (Parsons 1990:324) reflcct the era in which he was wnting. These assunaptiOns and the thcory of actiofl that followcd from them made scnse to institutioflalistS like Selznick and helped tbem illuminate previoUSlY neglected areas of organi7.atiOflal life. Before long. howcver, two forces__CthnOIflcth dology and lhe çognitivc revolutioii._would make Parsons’ language of norma and values lesa resonant and lead to a search for aia alternatiVe theory of social action.
One of thesc, cogniuve psychology. lias aia indigenous hranch, Lhe Carnegie achool, within organizatiOn theory. A key catatribution of lhe CarnCgie schaol lias been tu focais on the routine, laken.forgraflted aspects of organil.atiOflal life. We can 6id traces of cognitivism in Webcr’% theory of bureaucracy_bis empliasis on Lhe role o! “calculable rules” in reducing uncertaifltY and - tionalizing power relations. and his notion that bureaucradY thus ditTers from administration by notahles. which, “bcing lesa bound Lo schcmata,” is “more (ormless” and “functioiiS more slowly” (1 1922 1978:956 -1005). But cogn itive science per se was introduçed to organizatiøfl theory by Ilerhert Simon and James March (SimOn 1945; March and Simon 1958; Cyert and March 1963). ‘
r nt1enueS develooed an ay of
insights that atudenis of organization now regard as foundational elements: thc importance o! unccrtainty and its reduction through organizational routines; lhe notion that Lhe organization of altention is a central process ouL of whjch dccis ions anse; lhe concem wi(h Lhe implications for decision making when choices are niade underconditions of ambiguity about preferences, technology, and ial erpretation; and the many insights Iliai follow from lhe view o! decision making as a political procesa involving multiple adora witla inconsistent prefere ncet. The new insIiluLionlis(s in organiz.allon (heory owe a considerable deb lo lhe Camegie school. We learncd from Simons (1945:118—90) earty work (iaai habit must not be seen a.s a purcly passive elemeni in behavior, but rather as a means by which altention is directed to seleclcd aspects of a situation, Lo the exclusion ofcompeting aspects that might turn choice iii another direction. Sim on’s (1945:79—109) nch diacussion of Lhe role of premises ia structuring Lhe activities and pereeptions oforganizational participants also remains ao enduri ng insigbi. March and Simon (1958) aught us that organir.ational behavior, parlicularly decision making. involves rule following niore thaia lhe calculation o! consequences. March and his colleagues’ recenl work on lhe “garbage-can model” has dcepened our knowledge of lhe eomplexity of decision-making processes: organization members discover their motives by acting; problenas and solutions are typically dccouplcd; and decisions ofien occur through overs ight or quasi-random mating of problema and solutions (Colien and March 1974; Maieh and Olsen 1976; Ma,vh and kissinger-BayIon 1986).
The work o! die Camegie achool representa a robusi alternative lo lhe canonh o! choice found ia statistical decision thcory and microecononuc lheory. In their elforis lo develop a theory of choice driven by altention aliocation, Mmcli and Simon’s pnmary focus was on decision making and ulhcr iruemal organizat iona] processes. This preoccupation Ied thcm away from aia explicil concem with organizationai environments. Nonctheless, ia the evolution o! organizat ional ana]ysis from Bamard lo Lhe Carnegie school we sce a shift. parallel Lo lhe tj’ansjtion from lhe old lo thc new institutionajism, from a normative (o a cognitive approach to action: from commiment Lo routinc. from values lo premises, from moivation lo Lhe logic of rule following.
Because Lhey were not sociologists, Maivh and Simon had no necd Lo Confrout lhe Parsonsian paradigm; moreover, thcir work had Iimited impact. at first, ou general (as distinct from organizationai) sociology. Within lhe discip line itself, Lhe chalienge o! analyzing cognitive aspecis of behavior and thc takcn-forgrant elemenL ia cognition wenl unrrict until lhe 1960s, whcn Karold Garfinkcl, a Parsons studen intlucnccd as well by lhe phcnomenology Of Alfred Schutz, took on thc task. Garfinkel developcd an approach lo social tflVestigation, ethnomethodology, that he carne co regard as aia alternative Lo
sociology; in retunl. sociology niarginalized ethnomelhOdolOgY as an exotie species of inquiry iii adapted to life east of the Sierras.2° Yet dcspite lhe failure ofGarfinkel’S ambitious project on its own terms. bis response to Parsons’ norm ative theory of action has had a tnomentouS impact.2’
Garfinkel’s wok reopened thc neglected psoblem of “order in symbolic syst ems” and sought to discover lhe nature of practical knowiedge and lhe role of cognition in face-to-face interaction. Social ordcr, he argued. does not derive autotnatically froni shared patterns of cvaluatiofl and social roles, hut is cons tituted. as practical activity. in lhe course of evcryday interaction. Intcractiofl is a compica and problematic proceas in which persons must work hard to cons iruci a mutual impression of intersubjectivity. In their efforts lo make sense together. conversatiOflal paiiicipants empioy tacit background knowledge, cogn itive typifications that Gailinkel rcfers to as sociaIlysanctiod-facts0t
CooversatiOns are sustained by lhe inhcrcnt indexicality of language. the abili(y of participantS to relate any utterancc lo some external knowledge that makes it interpretable.
Garflnkel departs from phcnomenoiOgy in noting that contextual knowledge cannot sustain interactional order by itsclf, because Lhe symbolic order is never perfeclly shared. As Randafl CoIlins (1981:995) pula it, utterances “are freq uently ambiguous or erroneous nol a)ways mutually understood or fully cxphcated.” Thus convcrsatiOfl is 001 automaiically sustained hut is a “pract ical organi7allotlal accomplishmeflt.” Peopie enter mio conversation with an attitude of trust and a wiliingness lo overlook a great deal. doing ‘accomm odalive work” Lo ‘normalize” interactivos that appcar lo be going awry. Ruies and norma posseas large penumbrai arcas; an “cl cetera clause” implicit iii every role leaves ronm for negotiation and innovation. Adora “ad hoc” when they encounter unexpected circumstanctS. and cmpioy kgitimating “acc ountS” to define bebavior as sensible. Garflnkcl developed this vocabulary in the cootext of a brilliant saies of “breaching experiments” in which he and his studCfltS vioiatcd subtie coflStitUtjVC cxpectations and noted lhe often dramatic conscqUCflCCS (Gartinkel 1967).
in what sensc does cihnomethodølogY constitule a theoretical chailenge to Parsons’ modal? ‘lb start with. Garlinkei shificd lhe imagc of cognition from a rational, discursive, quasi-scicntific process lo one that operates iargeiy ben eath thc levei of consciousneSs, a routine and conventional “pracncal reason” govemed by “rules” that are recognized only when thcy are breacbed. To this he added a perspective on interaclion that casts douht on lhe importance of norm ative or cognitive consensUs. ‘l’he underlying attitude of trust and lhe willingness of participants lo use norrnaiizing techniques enabie participanis lo sustain cncouflters even in Lhe absence of real intersubjecLiVity. ,nuch less agrccment (Cicourel 1974:53). Finaily, inientionaiiLy is redcüncd as post hoc; whercas, for Parsona. action always has an evaluative aspCct and a desired cnd,
for Gariinkel activo is largcly scriptcd and justiflcd, after Lhe fact, by refcrcncc to a stock of culturally available Iegitirnating “accourns.”
Gartinkei retains norms, but they are no lhe substantive ones that Parson had in mmd. Rather they are cognitivc guidance systems, wles of procedurc ihat actors employ Ilexibly and reflexively to assure themselves and lhose around them that their behavíor is reasonable. Deviation from these general roles may elicit strong cmotional reactions, bu such norms are ncither articul ated to values of Lhe sort sumrnarizcd lii lhe pattern variabies, nor piausibly connected lo commitmcnl in Parsons’ sensc of objeel attachment. Far from being intcmalized in lhe personaiity system. lhe contem of norms is extern alized in accounts. As such, Garflnkei’s mies more closdy rescmbie Lhe “scripts” or “production systems” of cognitive psychology (Schank and Abclson 1977: Klahr eI al. 1987) than Parsons norms and values.23
The 1960s also saw lhe emergence of another line of phenomenological lhinking. Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann’s The Social Conagrucgion of Real iry. This work had a more direci iniluence on instinnionally minded or. ganizalional scholars, no doubi bccause it granted instirutions a larger role in ensuring social order. Berger and Luckmann (1967:19) argue that Lhe central qucstion for sociological theory is “How is it possihie that subjective meanings become objective facticities?” Like Garfinkel, Berger and Luckmann emphas ize lhe centrality of “common sense knowledge” to interaction and lhe bracketing of doubt. “The vaI idity of my knowledge of every day life,” they conlcnd, “is taken for granted by myseif and by others until furthcr notice” (p. 4.4).
Berger and Luckmann, like Parsons, slight Lhe niicmconstruction of social order thai so conçerned Gartinkcl. Practical reason iS 001 thcir concem. lndecd, Lhcir account of institutions as constituted by “a reciprocal typificaúon ofhahitu aiizcd actions by types of acturs” (1967:54) is similar Lo Parsons’ discussion of institutionalizeil roles. but with a cniciai difference Their snalysis operates largely at lhe levei of cognition, whereas Parsona emphasizes the evaluative and calheclic aspect and lhe integration of role requiremcnts with lhe persona lity system. By contrast, Berger and Luckmann grant extraordinary power to institutions as cognitive construclions, suggesting lhat thcy “control human conduçt . . . prior tu ar apart from any mechanisms ar sanclions speciflcally set up tu support’ them (p. 55). Even lhe intemalizalion of typiflcations, aIt hough guided by calhectic attachments and linked lo normarive legitimation, is esSentially cognitive in naturC.
Lithnomelhodology and phenomcnology together provide lhe new instiluL ionalism with a microsociology of considerable power. Alrhovgh this foundarion hs not becn discusscd cxtcnsively (but sec lhe chapters by Jeppers on, Scott. and Zuckcr, who rectify this ncglect), it is implicit in Meycr and Rowan’s (reaLmenl of “accounts,” in theiremphasis on lhe role ofthe “logic of confidence” in sustaining an illusion of intcrsubjectivity wilhin schools, and in
lheir detinition of “instimtionalied rules” as “classilicatinflS built mio society as recipnxatcd typifications or interpnLaliOflS.”
Tbis fusion of ethnomelhodOlogY and phcnomcnoløgY is foI a satisfactory theory of action, for ii fails lo offcr convincing answers co several questions. First, why are actors willing lo work so hard to sustain their images of rcality and die interactions that conflrm them? II is not enough lo argue. as Berger and Luckmaflfl do, that lhe exterior, objectificd quality of shared typilications pruv ides no alternatiVe. for Garfinkel demonstrates that common sense alone is foi adequale co produce succes.sful interaction. Sccond. how do the microprocesses with which these thecries are concenied produce social order? Lt cannot do lo reduce social structule lo an inventory of typificalions or a seI of coustitutive rules. Socially provided and constituted scripts rarely prescribe action in a way that unambiguoUSly establishes correct behavior. Third, whac pLace do micac ioaality and interest have in lhe institunonal order?
A fuli discusion of these issues would require a volume of its own. These problerns have nol beca solved; nor, perhaps. are thcy likely to prove soluble wiihin lhe framcwork of ncoinstitutional thcory. On lhe other hand, we can dia- cem important developrncnts in general social theory that bear deeidcd affinities with the new institutionalism and are bcginning co make their mark on it. lt is lo these approacheS that we now turn.
ELV.MENTS 0V A THEORY
Ol PRACTICAL AcTION
lhe new jnstitutionalism is bascd aI che microlevel on what wc hav alled a lheory of practical action. By this wc mean a ‘t o pjineipiç that refiect thc cognitive lura ia conternpora!y social t eoryin two ways. First, new work in social lheofy emphasizcs lhe cognitive dimension ol action lo a far greater extent than did Parsons and, ia doing ao, has been influenced by lhe “cognitiverevolution” ia psychology. Second. tias work deparis from Parsons’ preoceupation with lhe rationai, calculative aspcct of cognition co focus on prc. conscious processes and schema as they enter inlo routine, taken-for-granted behavior (practical activity); and lo ponray lhe affective and evaluatisc dimens ions of action as mntimately bound up with. and to some extent subordinate to, lhe cognitive. in olher worda. the cognilive lura infonus an emergcnt “theory ofpractical action” that both defines cogninon differcntly chan did Parsons and, at lhe sarne time, accords it much greater imporlance .
Tbe insights of ethnomethodology are inccgrated dito a more multidimens ional framework ia lhe work of Anthony Giddens (1979, 1984. 1986). The mark of Garfinkcl is evident ia Giddens’s notdm o! “strucluration.’ lhe cont inual and ncccssary reproduction o! social stiucture by “knowledgeablc agents” ia cvcryday lifc and the reciprocal indcxing of cheir actions lo shared typifications; ia ias cmphasis on lhe “refiexive monitoring of cocduct ia lhe day-to-day continuity of social life” (1984:44); and in bis distinction bctween
practical and discursive consciousncss, or bctween tacit and conscious retlexi vity. Giddens emphasizcs the role o! routifle in suslaining social struclurc and sketches lhe rudimenls of a psychology o! motivation ia his nocion ofthe “basic security syslem” as a lundamental component o! lhe self. Drawing selectively on devclopmental ego psychology, Giddens contends UsaI lhe coatrol of difluse anxiety is “lhe most generalized moovational origin of human conduct” (p. 54). The means of such control is adhercncc lo routine, and lhe compulsion co avoid anxiety motivates actors co susrain lhe social cncounlcrs that constitute lhe stuir of hoth daily Life and social structure. ‘l’hus Giddcns provides a cogn itive rheory o! commilincnl lo scripted behaviors Usai does foI rest on lhe norms and sanccions of lhe Parsonsian Iradition.
Giddenss account, however, does little co expIam why some interactions go better than others or why routines create particular stable patterns. Although Giddens repeatedly slressca lhe poial thac actors are knowledgeable, in inarked Contra5t lo lhe view of humana as “cultural dope.s,” bis work thus far provides little insighc into lhe sources o! lhis knowlcdge. A solution lo lhe problem of tnacru sutbilicy requircs an integratmn of lhe calhectic, aWective elemeni o! act ion ihal, ahhough just underthe surface in Garlinkel’s trcatmcnlofmorality, ia never fully devcloped.
Two theonsts, Erving Goilman and Randall Collins, have drawn on Durkb eira lo explore this dirnension of practical consciousness (Colhas l9a). Goffman (1967) made a decisive contribution ia adapting Durkheim’s theory of socicly lo lhe dyad, inlerprecing rnteraction as minirilual, ceremonial activicy orientcd to affirming lhe sacredness o! selves. Parsons, Coo, believed that people valued pcopcr role performance ia and o! itself. Hul (iotrman innovated by relaxing lhe assumprions 01 incersubjectivity and value consensus, cornparr ng lhe “ritual order” he analyzcd lo lhe “schoolboy order” o! Parsonsian theory, wherein people musI work hard for lhe credita chey gain and cheating elicils sanclions. The ritual game, he argues, is “easier” on societies and people alike bccausc ‘ibe person insulates himself by . - . blindnesses, halft ruths, iliusions, and rationalizations” (Goffman 1967:43). What is erucial in thc rilual game is lhe sen.se nf aflirnuition chal cxchange parlners derive from succeasful encouncers. Use feelings of sclthoud that are reinforced. Cominit. menc is lo che “interaclion ritual” and lhe seI!, and nol lo specific values, the explicit object o! inleraction, or lhe incidentaIs o! appropriace role perf ormance.
Colhas has incorporaced GofTman’s process-driven insights mioS more enc ompassing cheory. What inosi people call social struccure, hc argues, is constttuted oul o! “interacrion ritual chama” ia which people. operacing ai Use leveI o! praclical çonsçjc.,uneçç, invest cultural resources and emotional energ ies in ritual cncounlers lhat caseI either hieratthy (whcn cultural and emocional rcsourccs are unequal) or solidarity (when thcsc are cvcnly matched). Rather than viewing socicty as bound cogelber by a functionally neccssary ator-
ai conseflSUs, Colhas seca it as united and riven, to varylng dcgrocs. by emotional solidarity, emcrging nol oul of the evaluativc oricntation of actors bui trom feelings of comembership or antagonism generated by repetilive interacú on. Groups defined by ciass, gender. educational attainment, ar occupation vary ia their moral dcnsity. in thcir control of cultural resouices. and in lhe number and dispersion of thcir inleractionS. These fcatures in tum shape group membcrs’ styles of discourse, o,ientatiofls toward deviance and punishmcflt. and cosmopohilanisifl. Stabiiity (in Lhe sense of robust patterns of ailiancc and cieavagc. rather than political or ideological stasis) cmerges from the pattcrning of thesc interactions in time and spacc and froin lhe enduring effects of soHd arity, reinfoned by recurrcnt rituais o varying intensity, where moral density is strongest (Colhas 1981, 1988a)?
Ve have considered scveral contcniporary theorists whose work. which bears ao affinity to lhe new instituthooahism. makes several key advances: it tec stablishes lhe centrality of cognitiofl; it emphasizeS lhe practical. scmiautoi natic. noncalculativc nalure of practical reason; and ii spurns i.he assumptionS of intra- and intersubjective consistency that were prominent in Parwns’ thought. Bul thesc ajnç have come aI a coat. First. in overreacting to Parsons’ exaggerated emphasis on nonas, some sociological cognitivists have been slow to thcorize lhe nonnative elenicnt of practieal action. instead prcsenting images of action lacking in substantive content. Second, they havc overlooked an important insight of Parsons, developed primarily in his argument aboot lhe deeisiVc role of lhe cognitive orientation ia econoinie decision making. tbat diff erent mstitutional domains evokc cognitlvc. cathectic. and evaiuahve ocientations Lo varied degrees. Third. tbey have failed Lo come up with an anal ytic construct as powcrfui as the role system so expiam lhe relative 1k between persons and lhe positions they occupy in lhe social division of labor. Even ia lhese arcas, however. advances can be detcctcd from within Lhe emerging pract icai action perspective.
Efforts to theorize lhe substantive bases of practical evaluation—WhY certain ideas. imagcs. or symbols evokc strong affcctivc rcsponses, whcreas others seem Lo opcrate ai lhe cognitivc levei aloae—have talcen two forms. First, some scholars hae traced historically lhe mc and ditiusion of what iohn Mcycr calha lhe “Westcrn cultural coUflt.” aDurkheimiancOmple0findUm, rationahism. and evolutionism, and hinked lhe legitimacy and cvocativeness of these referents, as employcd in discourse. to changes ia both social structure and culture (sec lhe chaptcrs by JeppcrsOn and Meyer, and Friedland and AIf ord; also see Mcyer i988a and 1988b: Thomas 1989). Ata mote general levei ofabstraction. Mary Dougias (1986) has devcloped a sophisncated and intrigui ng argumeni atmbuting lhe legilimacy of institutionS lo their capacity tu sustain ‘naturahizing analagies.” InstitutionS, she argues. begin as convent inas, which, because thcy are based ia coincidence of interest. are vulnerabie tu defection, renegoliation. nd free riding. ló become irmstitutiooalized. abe
avioral convenflon requires a “parailei cognitive convention (o sustain i(, an analogy rhat obscures its purely human origins. Equippcd with such ao analogic base, institutions appear as “part of lhe order of lhe universe and so are ready to stand as the ground of argument.” But no ali conventions can sustain naturalizi ng analogics, oaly those that “match a çtructure of authority ar precedence” so that “lhe social panem reinforces lhe logical panems and gives ii prominence” (Douglas 1986:52). Thus Douglas provides a basis for anticipating what kinds of jnstitutions may ansc and hinks Lhe institucional order lo pattcms of social hherarehy.
The notion that lhe rebtive wcights of cognition. affect, and evaluation change acroas various scnings of aclion has beco less developed, although hcrc. too. we see recent progrcss. Scott and Meyer (ch. 5) distinguish between anaI yticahly independent institutional and technicai dimensions of organi7.arional environments: Lhe more technicaiiy dcvcioped ao environment. Lhe greater lhe role for discursive and analylic eognition; lhe more institulionalized, lhe greater lhe roles of practical reason and, perfiaps, evaluation. BelI (1973) suggcsts that cvonomy, culture. and polity are organized around contradictory “axial princ ipies” in postindusuial societies. Friediand and Alford (eh. 10) idenhify sevcral institutional domains, each with its own “Iogic” of action emphasizing difl’crcn( bases of evaluation and, Lo some extent, cite predominance ofdifferent action-oricnlalions: cognitive in lhe market and bureaucracy, affcctive in cite faxniiy. evalualive in religion.
lhe link bctwcen micro- and macrolevelsofanalysis has foi rccehved much explicit attcntion from practitioners of cite new institutionalism, most of whom move hack and forth arnong cthnomethodology, phenomenology, and convcnL ional resource dependcnce argumenta. Zuckcr (eh. 4) is lhe most erhnnmetho dological. suggesting that mnany typifications are “buik up” from ground levei by participants in inreractions, although some (e.g ., “organization”) have gene ral significance. Jepperson (eh. 6) too draws on ethnomcthodology. echoing Giddens and Colhas ia viewing institutions as “slable designs for chronically repeatud activity sequences.” Jepperson and Meycr (eh. 9) are Lhe most phen omenologicaj, cmphasizing shared typifications lht vary actuas societies but are Jargely shazed within natinn-states. Scott and Mcyer (cli. 5) and DiMaggio and PowcII (eh. 3) cmploy more structural imagery and draw on lhe arnegie school’s nolion ofsatisficing: cite former emphaxize incentives crcated by vert ical aulhonty structures that vary actuas organizational sectors; the lalter streas honzontal networks tha both focus attention and aid in lhe diffusion of sharcd typificarions oforganizational form.
Within the broader ficld of social theory. we come closest tu a genuine altern alive Lo Parsons’ version of role thcorv iii Pierre Bourdicu’s (1977) theory of thc habiru.r. Iiourdieu’s work has beco an imnportant part of the eognitive (um in social cheory, emphasizing Lhe doxic (takcn-tor-granted) elements of action, soc ial classification, practical consciousness (“knowledge without concepts”
19114:4701), and tbc situatcd. cmbodicd repruductiflfl of social atructure (Bourd icu and Passerun 1977). lhe habitus is an analytic constfuCt. a system of
•regulated improvisatiOn” or generative rules that representa lhe (cognitive, affective, and evaluative) inlernalization by adora of past experience on lhe basis of shared typifications of social categories, experienced pheoomeflally as “people likc us.” Because of common histories. mcmbers of each “class ftact ion” sharc a similar habitua, creating regulanlica in thought, aspirations, dispositions, panaras of appreciatiofl. and stratcgics of action that are linked tu lhe positions persofla occlipy in Lhe social structurc thcy conlinually reproduce. lnstitutions, in this view. are inseparable from thc distribution of dispositions:
an institutjofl can “only become enacted and active’ if it, iike a garmeflt or a house. finda someone who finda an interest iii it, fecis sufficiesstly at homc in it Lo takc it co” (BourdieU 1981:309).
Thc habitus constnjcl is the corneratOfle of Bourdieu’S theory ofpracticc. Íts role is tu expIam how and why strategically orientcd agents chronicaliY rep roduce and acquiescc to social alructures that are not in their interesi. With respeet tu lhe issues idcntified abovc. BOWIJiCU’S argumeflt makcs four critical contributions. First, ii provides an ahernalivc account to role tbeory of lhe diff erentiatictfl of cognitive understandiflgS and behavioral norma along socials mjctural lines Second. ii moves beyond lhe Freudian rnsageiy of internalizat io&’ lo posit a gencrative grammar of strategic bchavior, rooted in but not fully deterinincd by Lhe past. Third. it is multidimensiOflal in two senses: pointing to a substantive theory of pradtical evaluarion rootcd in diflerences in Lhe habitus of class fractions. and providing an account of “rational” strategiea ol action as tlsemseivcs instjtutioealizcd.2’ Fourth, il offers an alternatiVe solulion Lo thc ParsonsLan problem of the allocation of pcraons Lo social positions. lo be atire, Use habitua construct requires further dcvelopmeflt, and empirical questiona about lhe precise forma of social boundaries wilh which variations iii lhe habi tus coincide and Use ways in which lhe habitu.s is transfonned over time remam opcn. Nonetheless. Bosirdieu’S framework offers a particularlY baianecd and rnuhifaceted approach tu action. Although bis worlc is jusi begiflfliflg lo influe nCc organizatiofl tbcury DiMaggio, çh. II; BourdieU and Bollanski 1975; Thévenflt 1984; Boltanski 1987; Marcesu 19S9), much of it dovetatls wilh and may conlribulc lo a broadeniflg and deepening of Lhe institutional tradition.28
lMI’I.ICAflONS 0F nw Naw TiiitoRY
0v PRAC1ICAI- ACTION
Placed in Use context of Lhe transformation iii lhe sociokigical theory of action we havc dcscribed. the differcflces between Lhe old and new inslilun onalisms in urgafli72tioflal analysis beconsc underatandable. lhe shifts in iheoretical fcicus from object-relations te cognitive theory, from culhexit lo ont ological anxiely, from discursiVe Lo practical rcason, Irom internali7.atiOfl lo imitation. from çonunitment to hnornethodOlOgiCaI trust, from sanctiofliflg tu
ad hocing. Irom norma Lo seripta and achemas, from values te accounis, from consistency and inrcgration lo loose coupling, and from roles lo mutincs havc quite nalurally ahcred the questions Usai students of organizations have askcd and lhe kinds of answers they have offered.
When institutions were seen as based co values and commitment, and formal organization identified with Lhe relatively rational pursuit of goals, ii made sente to ask how Lhe “shadnwland” of informal social relations providcd a counterpoinl Lo lhe formal structure. By contrast, if legitimacy is dcrived from post hoc accounts or symbolic signais. it is more scnsible lo focus on lhe inalitut ionalized quality of formal structuses ihemselves. Indccd, ii is ais emphasis co such siandardized cultural forma as accounts, typifications. and cognitive mode Is that leads neoinstitutionalisrs to find rhc cnvironmen( ai Use levei of industries. pisfessions, and nation-states rathcr than in Lhe local comxnunities Usai Lhe old insti(utionalists studied. and ro view instilutionalization as lhe diffus ion of standanl roles and structurcs rathcr than Lhe adaptive custom-tltting of particular organi7ations to spccific sciiings.
In other words, Lhe diffcrcnccs bctwcen lhe old and new institutional app roaches te organizations could no bc lesa arbitrary. lhey reflect, are shaped by. and are thcinselves coming (o influcncc widespread and convergent changes throughout social thcory in fundamental images of huinan action and society.
New Direetions in
Although we are sympathetic te Use trends we have described. our intention hei been cartngraphic rather than cclehratory. As should bc clear frons Lhe fureg oing, we suspect Usai snmething has been losi is the shift from lhe old lo lhe new institulionalism. Although lhe prime importance o! assimilating the cogn itive revolution te sociological thcory is undeniable, wc agtcc with Alexander (1987) Usai lhe goal must be a sounder muttidi,nensional Lheory. ralher Lhana one-sidedly cognitive orar. lndccd, one o! lhe key purposes o! lhe confercnce lo which this volumc cais bc Lraced waa (o cxpand Lhe univcrsc o! discourse in institutionai theory lo include rcscarvhcrs whosc work placcd more emphasis on Use stralcgic and political clementa o! action and institutional change. The resuk, both aI lhe confcrencc and ti titia book, has been Lo integrate more firnily organizational insticutionalism with general sociology. lo place interesis and power os Use mstitutional agenda, and Lo clarify and deepen lhe conversation ahout lhe forra LhaL a tbeory of institutional change rnight take.
One of Lhe principal goals o! this volume is tu address head on Lhe issues of changc, power. and ctliciency. Up until now. it is fair lo say lhe new institut ionalism has been mosi atientive te processes o! legitimation and social reproduction. Wc have emphasized Usai organizational environments are comp nsed ol cultural elementa, Usai is. taken-fer-granted heliefs and widely
promulgalcd rules that serve as templates for organiLiflg. InstitutiOflal rep roduction has been associated with ibe demands of powcrful central actors, such as lhe atate, the profcssiOflS or lhe dominaflt acnts within organiati0flal fields. Tbis empliasis lias highligited the constrainta imposed by institutiofls and strcssed lhe ubiquity of mies that guide behavior. But institutions are not only constraifltS ou human agency; thcy are first and foremost productS of hurnan actions, indecd, mies are typically constructed by a proceas of confieI and contestation. Burus and Fiam (1987) makc this point forcefully when thcy arguc that lhe major politicai struggles in medem societies revolve around lhe formation and reformanor) o[ mie syslcmS that guide political and econonhiC actiOfl.
Thus, although we stress that mies and routines bring order and mmimlze uncemtainty. we must add that Lhe creation and implemcntation of institutional arrangcmcnts are rife with coniiict, contradiction, and amhiguitY. lhe chaptera in parts 2 and 3 tackle a acnes of fundamental questiona: 110w do institutioflal arrangemeflts shape lhe nanire of coliectivC action? How persisteflt are institut ions—hflW mutable are institutionalied pn*cLiceS? Wbcn do differcnt institutional Iogics chailenge one anothcr” What is lhe role of elites in rnaintaifli ng cxisting iristitutions? Under what condiúons are chaliengera and entreprefleUrS able lo refasbion cxisting niles or create new institutional orders? And. finally, what are lhe tensions bctween argumenlS that cmphasize Lhe “stickiness” of institutioflS and approacbes that assume an optimiiatlofl logic, dcpicliflg j0stitUtiOflS as lhe resulta of intentional actions or adaptive solutions Lo confhcting intercsts.
INSTI’FUllONS AS SIIAPERS OF INTERFST
A theme thal runs through many of lhe contributioflS to this volume is the notion that actors and (beir jntcresLs arc institutionally constrocted. Ann Swidlcr (1986) has argucd thal “culture” representa a boi kit from which people aeiect both institutionalized ends and Lhe stiategies for their pursUlt (see alai, Bourdicu 1981). Similariy, SentI (eh. 7) contcnds that “institutionai framew orlcs define the ends and shapc lhe tncans by which interCstS are dctermined and pursued.” Cultural frames thus estahlish appmved means nd define dcs ired outcomes, lcading business pcople lo pursue proflts. bureaucrnts lo seek budgetary growlh. and scbolars te sLrive for publication. Friedland and Alford (ch. 10) agree ihat “utility masimizatiOfl. saiisficing, income maximization, profit maximizatiofl. risk power. cvcn interest itelf are ali instiwtionallY cont ingem.” And Jeppcrsofl and Meycr (ch. 9) suggest that “funcLional nceds” and social problema are only discovercd and addrcssed whcn they tu with in existing
Such argumenta are ably documcutCd with cxamples of histoncai change and cross-national vanation iii cultural definitions of adora, interests, and politics.
Yct thcy bcg au important question: If insLituLions exert such a powerful influe nce over Lhe ways in which peoplc can fonnulate tbeir desires and work lo attain (bem, lhen how does institutional changc occur? flie answcrs to (bis question rnclude (hose that work from within au institulionai framework. and Lhose that see Lhe ongins ofchange in processes thal are nol insotunonal.
Several authors take rhe tirst path in developing notions of institutional coni radiction.” One form of contradiction is relaied tolhe way in which institutions til together ai lhe microlevel. iepperson (eh. 6) emphaaizes thc nesting of ins citutiona wilh one another. Greenwood and Hinings (l988. reintroducing Selznick ‘a organizational character but with a cognitive spin. argue that organiz ational componenta and strategies fali into socially constructed, interdep endenL clusters, which they cali archetypes. Zucker (1988b) contenda that, within organizations, instituLiunalizalion of components spreads by a
lagion of lcgilimacy,” as ncw elements linked lo old inatiLutions themselves become institutionalized. Lii other wonis, instituCional clemcnts çonstitul an unerrclatcd nciwork of rnutually supportívc or antagonistic parta.
l’his imagcly has scvcral iinplications for discussions of change. For one ihing, it suggests that institutional models are unhikely lo he imported whole clorh mIo systems that are very different trem lhe ones in which they originate. This point is well illustnated by Wesmeys (1987) account of lhe innovanons thaL late nineteenth-century Meiji emulatora developed in lhe coursa of fltting .stem modela of the police, postal system, and newspapcr into a prccxisting Japanese instigutional framework. For another. it suggcsLs that nghcly couplcd insticutions may be unstable in lhe face ofextcrnal shocks. Morcover. as Zucker (1988b) contenda. given the vaxialion in local environments. strong institul ionalization at lhe local levei may interfere with Lhe persisLence of vital niacroinstitutions.
The degree of coupling among institutions is ultimaíeiy au empu’cal issue. For example, while Zucker (1987) seca lhe dependence of peofessionais on org anizations as prcvennng thciii from acting as a source of change, Scott (eh. 7) and Powctl (eh. 8) arguc that lhe competing claiins of professionais create confi icts and hcighlcn ambiguity. 1)ispules over professional jurisdiction genera te unccrtainty about which rules and routines are evolced in special situations. Similarly, DiMaggio (eh. II) desenhes lhe relative autonomy oforganizational leveis, demonstrating that lhe sarne museum pmfessionals who behaved doci lely in their honie organizations sponsored radical reform from fieLd-level platforms.
Foedland and Alford (eh. 10) develop a quite diflcrent argument aboul “iiiS titutional contradiction.” Suciety, Lhey conLend, vompriscs scvcral diftcrcnt instituCional ordens, each with a central logic—a seI of material practices and symholic constructions—which consiítutes its organizing principies and which is available Lo organizations and individuais lo claboratc. Conflict occurs when instiLutional ordens come mio contradiction (as when people struggle over
whelher Lo treal womc&s work or lhe saie of body organs as íalling undcr Lhe ruies of lhe marketplacc. lhe farnily, or rcligion). Ratherthan pitting “ralional” deinstitutiOflahZe against “conservatiVe” instilulioflS, polities conccrflS “the appropflatc relationship belween instiwtions” and Lhe question of by which rnstitutional logic different activitie% should he rcgulated and lo which categon es of pcrsons thcy should apply.”
Fricdland and Alford’s perspectiVC bas much face validity. lntcnnstitutiuflal confliet may be discerncd iii DiMagios (ch. Ii) account of lhe democratic versus elite niodeis of the American 5,1 museum in lhe 1920s and in GaI askiewicz’s (cli. 12) discussion of busincss leadcrs’ efforts lo maintain a cornmunilaflan raiber than a pure maikct model of Lhe coeporate role in MinneapoliS.
Ol INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE
Nonc of Lhe authors regards instituI ioflS as entirciy immutable or institutioflal change as a stnctly endogenous procesa. Jcpperaofl (ch. 6) and Fligatein (ch. 13) both rncntion Lhe effects of exogenous shocks that block Lhe reproduct ion of institutiolial pattcrns and lhes induce change. and Jeppcrson considers coUcctiVe action as a separate causal mechanisni that cai’ erode or eliminate institutioflS (although lhe form and object of such action may themsclves be institutionalized). Mcyer and Rowan distinguish bctween institutional cffcets and “lhe cffects gcncrated by the networks of social behavior and rclatiooships which compose and surround a given organization.” Scott and PowelI Cknowle dge that institutional constraifltS always leave space for Lhe aul000tnOUS play of intercSts and jmprovl%atiOfl.
Power and interests have been slighted topies in institutiOnai analysis. To bc sure, Meycr and Rowan pointed Lo Lhe power of Lhe state and Use coilective mobilizing efforts of lhe professions. DiMaggiO and Powell stresscd how coerc ivc proccsscS that is. Use dircct imposilion of standard opersting pnscedures by powerful organizations in a ficld • as wciI as more subtie presstreS for confori nity, limit variability. But little attenlion lias been focused on bow incumbcnti, marntain their domioant positions or rcspond lo thrcats during penods of cnsis or instability. And wc know even lesa aboul how skillful entrcpreneurS put nitilt iple institutional logica Lo strategic use. The chapters in this volume begin Lo redress this neelcet.
Effo,1s toineorporate power mIO institutional arguments begin with two sim- pie observalions: (1) actors in key institutions realize considerablc gains from Lhe maintenance of those nstitutions: and (2) when organizational fields are unstable and established pracliccs ill fonncd. successful coliccIlve action oftcn dependa upon delining and elaborating widcly acccpted roles of the garne. Cons equently, lhe acquisitiofl and maintenanCe of power within organirational
fields requires Usai dominant organizatiuns continually cnact sratcgics ofeont rol, most noabiy through cither lhe socialization of newcomcrs inco a sharcd world vicw or via lhe support of lhe srate and its judicial ann
Fligstein makes lhis point nicely iii arguing that certain corporate strategies were favnred by CEOs with markcting and íinance backgrounds because lhe sirategies íi( their intcrcsts and competcncies. Sueeessful exccutives deveioped conceptions of control hat carne Lo dominatc thcir industries and &fined approp riale standanls ofbchavior. Briai and Karabcl (ch. 14) note lhe fit bclween lhe vocationalizing agenda of conlmunity college adminislrators and their backg rounds and status concerns. DiMaggio desenhes museum professionais who sought radical changes in museum missions and policies lhal would Ind lo enh ance their own positions relative Lo those of lheir trustees.
In ali of thesc cases, advocaie.s aí change drew on inscitutionalized modeis and employed highly legitinsate and stylized accounts, which we havc no rcas on Lo doub they bclicvcd. Lo advance thcir positions. BoI lhe options favorcd and teOria of debate bore a dccided affinity to thc intcrcsls of the participants.
The Lhree case studics of inscitutionalization—Galaskiewicz on corporale philanthropy. Brint and Karabcl on community colieges. and DiMaggio on sri museums—arc rcniarkably convcrgenl in suggesting how power and interests shapc the evolution oforganizational fields. Each identiíles goal-oncnted elite intervention ai cnuical poirns in a fieid’s development: each illustrates Use cons truction of fieldwide organizafions. with professionais playing lcading roles. lhal exerled ais autonomous impac( on idcology and behavior: and cach doeum ents contesta between institutional modela that wcre shapcd around stratcgic considerations. The point is nol chat Use interests pursucd wcrc foI in sonse sente institutionalized. but Usai for lhe cxpianatory puiposes of each paper, the active policical aidc of Lhe StOy (which, in each case, has decisively instilul ional clenscnts) is more germalse.
Brint and Karabel suggest that ncoinstitutiona]ists still have much to leam froni Selznick’s woik, which focused directly on lhe exercise ol power. “Our difficulties with the ncw institutionalism,” ihey writc. “havc lesa lo do with its teneis than wfth iis silences.’ In some rcspccts. the vocabonalization of thv communily coilege is a tcxthook instiLulionali.zation stoiy: a changc in organiz ational mission sponsorcd by kcy elites as a coniribution tolhe goals ofjusticc and economic prugreas, it began siowly thcn diffused widely. Bui it is an iiiS titutional stoty with ais odd twist diffusion occurred oniy after sixty years of fruiclcss advocacy by comnsunily-collcgc administrators and their allies. What explains, firsi, Use continued bul ineifectual efforts at vocationalization in Lhe face of studcnt opposition and. second. Lhe project’s eventual success? To ai’s wer this question, Brini and Karabel emphasize not only instriutional modcls and rational myths. boi siso “lhe purauli oforganizational inleresis” and “Lhe role of group stniggle in shaping organizational structurcs and policies.”
AN 1NsrlruT10NM. PERSPECTIVE ON CoururITlON AND EjFIc1FNcY
The contributions to diis volume rdflect not just an effort lo deal with politica and conflict, but a paraliei anenipt lo come to terma with Lhe problema of comp etition and efficiency. Typical of this cffort is Lhe rapprochement between nstitutionahsm and lhe populatioti ecology approach. lnstitutionalists are now rnuch more wiiling to acknowledgc the importance ol competition and organiz alional seleetion than Ihey once wcre (sec Poweli, cli. 8). Ecologista, for thcir part. now emphasize lhe importance of institutionai factors in competition and explicitly disavow Panglossian nindeis of organizatiOnai evolutiOfl (Hannan and Freeman 1989). Chaprer 16 by Singh, Tucker. and Meinhard is afine examp ie of this convergence: using population modela. the authors demonstrate the effects of institutional change on population dynamics and lhe salutory effect of institutional legitunacy on the survival rales of Toronto’s voluntary socials crvicc agendes. Tbey suggest that competition for social fimess has adecided payotT.
Ratlier than dcny the importance of cnmpctitkm. institutional theorists now emphasiZe tbc historiciil and intersocielal variahulity of competitive regimes and the role of institutiofls in constituting tbcse regimes. Chapter 15 by OrrO, Biggart. and Hamilton iliustrates this point vividly with its comparison of interc orporate coordinatiOfl in Japan. Taiwan. and Korce. Firm structUres and intcrfirfll nctworks are “strikingly unifomi or isomurphiC within each economy, but diffcrenl fmm cach of lhe olhera — thcy expçess the organizing principies of that economy’S enviroflmeflt,” lhe authoes chailenge lhe notion that institut ional and technical imperativeS are incon%isteflt by contrast, they find thar institutionai and tcchnicai cunsiderationS “converge harmoniOusiY ia shaping organizatioiial forma.” Rathcr than “hainper organi7.atiOflal efficiency,” lhe “distinct conceptions of what constilutes appropriate eçonomiC activity” in thcir Lince East Asian cases “providc a basis for market order and for comp etitiVC relations.”
Indccd, as Poweil (cli. 8) and Scott (eh. 7) suggest. lhe eariy wndcncy of many neoinstitulioflaliSta to idcntify iechnical fcatures with for-profit brins and instilutioflai forces with nonprofit or governmeflt agencies is no longer viabie. The successful application of institutional modeis to Lhe adoption of smictural elcments and practices by proprietarY corapanieS. iliustrated by Galaskiewicz’S chapter on corporate philanthropY and Fligstein’S on corporate slrategy in this solume, bas become a growth itidustry. Rcccnt efforts in this veia include Lrcatm ents oí Lhe muitidiviçional urro (Fiigsteifl 1985), pattems 01 corporate phil anthropy (CialaskiCWiCZ 1985a; Galaskiewicz and Burt 1991; Galaskiewict and Wasserman 1989: tiscem 1987). training and pmmotlon procedurca in law firma (Tnlbert 1988: Tolbert and Stem 1989), lhe intmductiOfl and sprcad of jnatriz management tBuifls and Wholey 1990). financial repOrtiflg methods
(Mczias 1990). legal dcpartincnta of multinationals (Miyazawa 1986); due proc ess pmcedures in corporations (Dobhin et ai. 1988; Edeiman 1990), human resource policies (Raron, Dobbin. and Jennings 1986), and management buyouts (Amhurgey and Lippert 1989). Ali of these studiea provide ample iil ustration of how institutional forces shape corporate structures and practices.
Do suei findings mean that businesses are inefficien? The implications are far from obvious. On lhe une hand. carly expressions of lhe new institut ionalism explicitly contrasicd instituCional processes lo chore driven by efficiency considerations, vontcnding that moncy spcnt on ecremonial or legiti mating activities constitulcd “pure costa from lhe point of view ofefliciency” iMeycr and Rowan, eh. 2; scc siso Di!daggio and PowciI, eh. 3). Bul this argum cm is queslionable for several reasoas. First. wc musl distinguish bctwecn lhe processes by which an organizarion makes a change from lhe effects of the change it lias madc: a firm that adopta a product-related diversification straregy bccausc it is acceptcd in its industry might well benefic materially froni this decision. Second, we must ask whether institutionally driven choices (e.g..the adoption of a human resource management department) have any net impaci on efficicncy ai ali. Third, we musi accouni for lhe income.pi’oducing effects of legitimacy rather than simply Iooking ac the cost side: it may be highly efiicicnt for a school district Lo spend a million dollars on ceremonial activities if Lhe resuking legitimacy induces vutera Lo endorse a $15 million boad issue.
The key chrust of institutional analysis is neither Lo expose Lhe inefilciency aI organizational practices nor Lo cclcbrate Lhe nonoptimalicy of institutional arr angcmcnts. We are skcptical of argumenta that assume that surviving institutions rcpresent eflicieni solunons bccausc wc rccognizc that ratcs of env ironmcncal change frequencly outpacc rales of organizational adaptation. Bceause suboptirnal organizalional piactices can persist for an cxtendcd pcriad of time, we rarely cxpees institutions simply to rdflecl curreni political and econ omie forces. Tbe point is not lo disceru whether institutions are efficient, hut lo devclop robust explanations of lhe ways in which inçtitulions incorporara bist orical experiences mio Cheir reles and organizing logics.
This introduction is a coliaborative effort; die authors’ nanica are Iistcd iii a]phahelical order for lhe sake of convenience. We are grateful for perceptive written comments on earlier drafts of lhe introduction by Jeff Alexander, Stevc Briut, Randali Collins, Ken Daubcr. Ron Jepperson. John Mcyer, Stcvc Metias, Dick Nelsun, Charles Pcztow, Ken Shepsle, Don Shin, Harrison Whitc. and Maycr Zaid. The discussiun 01 lhe positivc chcory of institutions owes much lo presentations by Shepslc and Barry Wcingasl ai a conícrence lhal Powcil attended. Tbc authors also bcncfitcd from carcful readings of eariicr drafis by parcicipants ia facuiiy/graduace-srudent workshops at Arizona and
YaIe. The authors tear rtspoflsibiitY fo such unclanty or unsatifying treatm enti. of controversial rnaLtCrS as rcmain.
1. Senti and Meyer have auhslantially resiscd ,hc,r paper for this volume and Zuckcr lias .idded a new posiscript lo hers. The chaØels by Meyer and Rowan and DtMaggio and Powell appear na their ouginal fixm.
2. For dclinitiOflal discUsSionS of institution. insii,utionalized. and ,nstjtutiO,WIi zatícrn. sec Lhe chaplcrs na paris 1 and 2. especiafly those by iepperSOfl (cli. 6) and Senti (ch. 7).
3. lo doing ao. wc arc more concemed with central WndeflcSes iban with cXCCptiOflS. AlthOUgh neoinsiitubo,ialhim ia economics and political seicnCe cnicrgcd ia opposiIIOfl Lo atomisili rathcr than modela of rational acuou. many economista and political scacflL iais have cometo questioo (and in their niodels. Lo modsfy) kcy elcnicnts ia lhe rationalc hoice appcoaches to intitUti0fl5 Ilaat hase dominaled their tields. Ou Lhe other hand. approachcs such as transacilOn-COM cconøtniCs and agency Lheory teve made ,nrügds mio organizational analysis and sociology. To makc maIterS cvcn more couiiplicalcd. carl ier uses cl irasntuiioa persisi in sociology (where rnsiituiiOfl sometimes refcrs to such complexes of intenlatcd agents and activitis as law. religiou. medicine. Lhe family, or lhe atate). polilical scicnce (where insMfl’flCtlaI work uicludcs hiatoncal or riehly des cnptiVC accuunt’ aI iuch poliiical uniu as seslc agencics or lcgis.latuICs). and htsto’y jnstjflUiOø.dl soineilmes refcrs to itudica o! constitUtlofls and Icangi). 0w poini is nol thai any discipline prctents a unitlcd troat. bul that varialion in lhe ucatmtflt o! ins litutiofls betwccn disciplineS tende to bc gseater than Lhe vanation within thcni.
4. Putierman 1986 providCS ao etccellent overvacw of Ilus latesalure anal o8ers 5am- pliags o! key papas is this traslitious. As Richard Nclsofl bis pointed ou’ ia a personal cotumunicatiou. Lhe new iristitutionalism (o cconoinics contrasta sharply with what ued tute known as 9nsiibitioflaI cconouüc$. ll lter. associaled with ande eavly twcnhiethe cntury acholais as John Covimouis ind ilsoralcin Vebten. was quite sociological in Lis emphasis cii custom. polilical ccooomy. and ilie historical speCl
6. Under circumstanccs o! rapid societal-lesel cultural change, bowever, organizat ions nwy incolporate new clements in lhe institutiOflfll cnvuoflmeflt ai a rapid rale. Wc are grateful Lo lobo Meyer for this point. which is illus*rated rnTbomas 1989.
7. We tbank Ron Jeppcrsan for Lhe tattcr po.nt.
8. A proveis vI syslem charige is state.dcpcndefll whcn lhe prohabil’LY and direction o! change from ouse pciiod lo lhe nexi cate a funelion o! the siOte otite system ai lhe initial period.
9. Tias ia particularty Lhc case with respeci tu lhe old institutinflahhn’. the boundaries o! which were constructcd rctrospeCtiVClY Lo encIosc a vane*y 01 wou5ss and authors wbO
did iicic regard themselves as membera 01 a self-conscinus school (Perrow l986). la our djscussion. we reler cspecially lo lhe mci clossici o! lhe old institutionalism. Selznick’s iVA and Lhe C,rass Roces (1949) and Leadersksp is Admimstrauon (1957).
10. Allbough cognition sometimes refers lo lhe fuil range of meanal acltvity. we foil ow currcet usage iii distinguishing bctween cognition, ou lhe oue hand. and affcetivc or evaluative processes ou Lhe other. By c-ogniiion we refer Lo boda icssoning and lhe piec onscious grounda o! reaccon: clasiiications. representations. scripls, schcmaa, production sysiems. and Lhe like.
li. 0w avgumcnt lacre is onI dial lhe institutional thcory ol organizaiions has particip ated (o a broader cheoretical turn; we are soa interested (o questione 01 pnority. A casual perusal 01 citaiion pattems and publicatuon dates suggestt daai. except for lhe impaci cal Garllnkel and Berger and Luckmann os lhe early formulations of Meyer and Rowan and Zucker, Lhe aflhnity hetween organizational institutionalism and tbese broadercurrenís is Iargcly Guie cl convergence rather iban influence. 1! anything. lhe cognitive revolution acenas to havc rcachcd institutional thcofy bcforc making its inade on social thcory as a whole, probably doe to lhe presence whhin organi,.slion Lheouy o! Lhe senainal work of lierbcrt Situo, and Jantes Marvh. lhe papas (o this volume evince a diminishing paroc hialism wilhin inslitulionat thcory as awazencaa o! convergeni wutk fwm ouiskle Lhe field cl organizalion atudica has gzvwn lace Friedland and Alford. Jcppcrson. Jepperson and Meyer. Powell. and Soou).
12. ‘Àte would distinguish our view. wttich is consistem with Coliinss (1981) cail for “microtra,aslation.’ frnm individual rcductionism (i.e., positing motivated individual action as lhe uhimate cause o! ali social pbenomena in ao anaiytic sesse), lo lceeping with titia. we use lhe tcrm action tlirougbout lo reler lo ociaJ bdiavior. without any of lhe muscular. rational. or individual ,educiàonisl counolations lhal some base associatod with that tema. We aro grateful lo lote Mcyer. Ron Jeppcrcaon. ind olhei reuders o! ao carlier version for pvessing ais tu make czplicit our ressona for co.sccntraung on microf oundatiouas ia tias drst’t. and for cheifying lhe lsck o! conscnsua within institutional theory no lhe relative importance ofthe “micio’ side.
13. lo referring tolhe middle’ period. we follow Alexander 1987:53-72. Ourdisc ussion o! Parsons drawt on twca major worlcs (Parsons and Shils 1951; Parsons 1951) that were published afiei’ Selznick’s iVA and Lhe Grass Roote (1949). Parsons integrated nbject-rclations dieory intra lis modci o(action during lhe 1 940s. however. and Selznick had acccscc ro his essaya (e.g., Pars.ons 1945)during lhis period. Selznick 1957 atso drew dircelly co work in ego psycbology.
14. lo as i.sightful discussion o! bote pgg trcalmcnl olsocial action neglecis ihc ways UsaI individuais construct Llaeir bchavior oul o! ao anaalgana cl cultural roles ind norinative values, ave Csmic 1989:63—69.
IS. lndeed, Mayhew 1984 boa lilustratesi how. despite Parsona’ early criticisms o! utilitarianism. lhe lalei work of Parsons progrcssively incorporated a utilitarian image o! a modens social ordcr. Both Mayhew 1984 and Boumcaud 1981 suggest that Parsons soughl tu estend Lhe bola o! utilitanan dieory heyond the reaim 01 lhe market lo ali modc m fornis 01 social organirarion. Th’Ls “institutionalizcd individualism (Bourricaud 1981) arguca dual processes es! cxchange ate stahilized hy conslraining normativC tlruct urca cxlernal (o lhe cachange parlncrs. Some readcrs may note lhe obvious parallels bctwcen tItia version of institutionalism and reccnt worlc iii lhe new instilutional cconomi es. Soe Camica (1986:1076) discussios for more ou tias point.
16. Ia an cxtraordiflarilY thoughtful and cxtCnsIVC set of eoinmenls cm an earher draft of titia essay. Jcffrey Alexandcr suggest% that Parsons vicw of valucs and norma is (ar more coasistdnt wlth cognitivistS’ images of acripLa, ruira, and classi%icatiofls Iban we acknowledge and thst Parsons anticipated ciiuch of che “practical thcory of action dias wc &SCrIbC bclow. 1.0 be sure. Parsons’ critique of unhtarianism. bis portrayal of lhe analytic aulonomy of leveis of analysis. and his conccm with lhe mutual onentation of actues are ali fundamental precursora lo the contcmporary approaches wc discusS his coutnbUtiflhi is casy tu sakc for grantcd loday prccisely bceause iS waa socffedi4e. On lhe ochcr hand. wc (ind it diicuI( tu locate in Parsons’ major writings evidence that he antiei pated lhe trends wc describe: we are struck, ins*ead. hy lua emphasis on lhe moral aspecLS of valuc.coininitments, lhe general til bctweca values and norma, and ibe quasir aiioiial manfler in whicb actors pursue means-eod chama. The issue is a dcfficult one. becauac Parsons did nos base at bis disposal lhe vecabulary that lias devcloped over many years of worl by lhe Cantegie school. homethodOlOgiStS, and cognitive psyc bologistS, and therefore could noS easily base expresacd certain images of acuou even if hc anticipa(ed (bem. Moreover. as Alexander lias ootad. ParsoiiS’ worl is comples and nol always intcmally coasisleni. lt may be safest lo conclude that Parsofls’ diacusaiolis of valuc and florins. cmploying lhe languagc available tu him. lcnd tbeltiaclVCS lo a rnficat ion of saires, a trcatmeflt of pessoas as “oversociall7cd.” and an eascntially moral view of lhe evaluat’VC dimeflsiufl of aclors orientalicl4’5 to Use means and enila of acIma. ia otiser words. we believe we give an accuralc accounl of “PaisOflsiaflism” as is was tuc eivcd into American sociology, even if Parsons himself bati a more complcx view of lhe manner iii which values and norma enter into action than we smply.
17. Cogmtion for Parsons is aasimilatcd, as Wsmer 1978 tulIs us. to cisber a scientifie modc of thought ora normati se one. Wanier 1978:1328 pointsoUt that che formei analyts e move rejecta thc notion thal cognition lias variable propertic%, whule lhe lafler effoit icCOgniZes lhe variable status of cognition but reduces it lo little more than Use status of a belief. As a rcsult. lhe social actors jn Paraofls’ schcmc appcar lo lack either intcrprettVe compeleflCC or practical conScIOUSnCSS. ibis passive individual lias been apdy labcled a “cultural dope” by Gartiiikel 1967:66—68.
IS. A key premise of Parsons’ Striwlure ofSocialAcnofl (1937) is tbat acUOD consista of a rcasoncd selection of mesas and end by lhe applicatiofl of guiding norma. ‘(es lhe unrcmittiflg thrust of bis argunlent was lo homogenize social action (Camic 1986). By omitling any considcratiofl of lhe habitual nature of action he severcly hanchcapped lisa efforts to account for paltena. of order in social relationships.
19. March and Simon drew sueste of Use inspiration for their pathbrcaking work from
77w Func(iOit of che Execuliw. written hy Chester Harnard (1938), ais AF&T executive sceondcd Lis lhe Harvard Businesa School. Barnard was a talented ansateur scholar; Fwections is theoreticafly undisciplii cd. fuU of sharp but nol always COiisistCflL insighta. Tbc int)UCflCC of Haivard. 01 Parsons, and of lhe lientierSon circle and thcir appieclatiofl of Pardo is evidcnt in l)arnard’s systcms approach. His voluntarislie model of attach mcnt Ia lhe Iirm and his emphaais on pa.ssionatc commitmeflt as a souicc of organiratiotial solidarity are consistent with Parsons’ nurmative thcocy of iction. liut tbcrc is also a cognitiVC sitie lo FuiictiWIs. tound ia Barnsrd’a analysl% o(decision maki ng. ia his preacicnl accoune csf what would laler become known as lhe “cactcd environmcflt,” in bis view o(goals and subgoals as objecta that leadera cais manipulatC, md ia lis norion of Use zonc of indifferencc” within which workcrs comply smreflec
ively with manlgcnlcnt diicctivcs. Wbat Simon. March, and thcir Carncgic coilcagues achieved was to purge liansard of Parsons and to systcmati7e and dcvelop furthcr thc cognitivc iiicoey that was sli-uggiing co escape.
20. Gartlnkel lias published relatively little. and his writing ofien ecaistis easy comp rchensinn; his major work ia Siudies ia Ethnomeihcxiologv (1967). Fortunately. lhe secondary litesature is systemalic and infonnasive; see. especially. llcrisage 1984, 1987 and Alexander 1987:238—70.
21. Alexander 1987 has distinguished beswecn Garlinkcl’a carly work, which repor senta as elaboration of Parsons’ framcsock. and bis later work. which repudiates ii. Our coflhilseflts refer tolhe second phase. wbiçli has bati a more markcd influence ou contem porasy lhcocy.
22. A ,clated Une of argument in organizational bchavioe has breu pursued by Weick in his work (1976) on Ioosely couplcd .cystema, and by Staw and lia collcagucs (Staw 1981; Staw and Rosa 1987) is tricir wcwk ou cite escalation ofconsmitment.
23. Within neoinstiwsionalism, Use position of norma anil aa’sociaied “sanclions” is a macter of some disagreemeni or. perhapa. ambiguity. Scolt and Meyer contcnd Usarias litulions real ou normativc as well as cognitive foundation’.: DiMaggio and Powell (eh. 3) desenhe normativc isoinorphisni, linz. as Scott (eh. 7) aigues. do nos distinguish ii clearly trom cognutive etiecls. Zucicer (postscnipt tu eh. 4) ia more strictiy cosJnit ive, aruing dual lhe use cuf sanetions tu dcfend a behavior pastem is evidence of weak institutionalization. insofar as high leveis of instilutionalizaliots make sanclions unnece ssary. Jepperson and PoweIl (chs. 6 and 8), by contraat. view lhe support of rewards and sancrions as ais intrinsic aspect of institutiona, but Jepperson specihes sisal such suppon occurs rhrough “relatively aclf-aetivating social prncesscs.” whilc Powell rolhes more on Use binding powcr of rulcs,
24. II may be useful to conlraat 5h15 approach lo rasional-actor models and the Passous ian model of aclion with a concreta cxumplc. lhe increa’cingly wclI.wom case of tlic motorzst sropping ata highway ressauruns co which alie expects Dever lo rcturn. A rational molorlst would fail so lesse a sip, calculating Usas the waiter who has hcen stiffed would havc no opportunity to sanctioei her misbehavior. A Parsonsian moorist would lesse a tip bccause Use lati inscmalized Use notâo lisas luis was good: sbe and lhe waiter would amue ai une anodscr as shc did ao ia mutual appreciation of ler appropriare role perform ance. A practical actor woutd also lcavc a tip. bccauac lisas is what one does. but withuut capericncing a warm glow. If lhe practical actor stoppcd lo think about it, star mighl falI lo lesse asip (if ber imageof human achou is dc:ivcd from graduatccconomics courses) or shc nuighl lesse cine and fccl gsxxl aboul is (if Use is ais cxwaitrcss ora Pars onsian), bul under moas circumstances she won’t give the master much Ihoughr.
25. Few ncoinslitutiona)ists hive embraced Collins’s work for (wu ressona (but ice Jcppersoa, eh. 6). First, his best-known papei ou lhe topic ralher misleadingly rejects “cogiutiv&’ approacbcs lo action bccauac ir identifica ‘cognition” with r.stional, discurt ive thoughs. Lis fact, Coluna follows ethnomeshodology ia iaying considerabie emphasis on lhe “irreducibly lacil clcmcnt in cognition anal eornmunicalion’ (1981:991); what he rcjccts ias prcoccupation wilh Usas pan of cognition Giddens rcfcrs lo as di.scursive consciousncss, along wilh lhe ‘as.if’ rationaha* socahulary of viiluc.s and nonos. Sccond. bccause of bis empliasis ou lhe interactional foundacions ot social organization and ais lute affective or ritual aspects ot lhe micro-ceder, thc work is somel imes misinccrprctcd as sharing lhe radical realisni of some (bus by no means ali)
hnomethOdOl0gi5ts, that is, as regarding macrocoflcCPts as “mere” epiphenomefla of, or glosses on, an “essentiai” microlevel. In fact, although he regards thc ritual aspect of interaction as primary. Collins (1981) acknowledges the role of acCOUfltS, macr oreferenceS, and cultural resourceS in normalizing and structuriflg interaCtiOnS. Because he assumes lhe polemical burden of challengiflg reified, quasi-ratiOflal accoufltS of social aclion, Colhas ops to negiect lhe origins and use of shared typifications (but sce his more receai work. espccially Collins 1988a and 1988b). NonethcleSS, his app roach points lo a solution lo lhe problem of order that is more cOnSoflaflt with new research on cognitiOfl and more plausible than approacbes that undervalue affect and ritu al. In this volume, both Meyer and Rowan, and Friedland and Aiford develop institutionai argumcntS that incorporate attention to ritual and ceremoay at a more macr olevcl. Also see Meycr 1 988a on the sacred modera self.
26. The nced for such work is cvident on empirical grounds. Given that anything that enters mIo human interactiOn can become the basis of a shared typihcatiofl. why are some typificatioflS (the nation, the family, pnvate property) so much more compelhing than others (countieS. second cousins, the commons)? A purely cognitive theory of act ion, even one that integrates Giddens’S ideas about the basie security system. cannot account for the dramaticahlY different affective and normative responses of the subjects ia Zucker’s experimeflt under lhe “office condition” (eh. 4) and the participaflts ia Milgram’s obediencetOaUth0rtY research progran’ (Milgram 1974).
27. On lhe former, sce, especial1)’. DistincriOn (BourdiCU 1984); on lhe latter, see, especially. The Logic of Praci ice (1990).
28. The natural affinity between Bourdieu’S ideas and neoinstitutioflal theory is esp ecially evident in ThévenOt 1984; note also JeppersOfl’S characteriZatiofl of “institutionaliZation as a particular set of social reprodUctiVe processeS” (eh. 6).
29. There are intriguiflg parailels betweefl institutioflaliSt thought and lhe Marxian tradition ia this regard, and much room for a dialogue that has nol yet taken place. Ant onio Gramsci’S notion of hegemonia (1971), lhe domination by elites of lhe consciousfleSS of members of other classes, for example, directs attention Lo why some ideas and practiceS are jnstitutionahized and others are not. Similarly. Michael Mann’S (1973) depictiofl of lhe four-part process by which a social class achieves “cono f itself as a class, awareneSs of lhe capitahist as an opponetlt, heightened sahience of thc class idcntity, and lhe identification of altematives—has much ia commofl with institutional accounts ofchange. These afhnities have rarely been acknowledgcd for two reasons. First, authors in the Marxian tradition generally hew to ana priori mude) ofclass structure that is of limited applicability to many phenomefla in which neoinstitutiOnalists are interested (especial1)’ at lhe organizational levei). Second, Marxian analysts ordinarilY view social change as lhe result of conflict between selfc onscious. rational (corporate) actors (a tendency at its most explicit in contemPoralY “analytic Marxism” [Wright 1985; Elster 19821), treating processes that institutionaliSts view as nearhy universal as pathological departureS from rationality (“falsc coas ciousness”). NonetheleSS, the Marxian tradition has the virtue of focusing on lhe exercise of power (cOflSCiOUs or UflCOflSCjOUS). on lhe mesas by which power is exerc ised. and on patterns of inequality of power commOn lo most large-scale societies. We are grateful to Don Shin for reminding us of this. and to Chick Perrow for repeated exh ortations to attend seriously tu power and inequality, a poial that we concur with and have tried lo attend to ehsewhcre (see DiMaggio )988a and Powell h985b).