Taking Things a Bit Too Far: Some Problems with Emergent Institutional Theory


Institutional Theory Has Rapidly Emerged to a Place of Prominence within Organizational Theory (OT). This Chapter Examines and Critically Evaluates the Major Characteristics of Institutional Theory (IT). IT is First Located within OT and Then, a Brief Historical Review is Presented. Some of the Major Problems of IT Are Considered and Some of the Possible Contributions by IT towards the Larger Field of OT Are Discussed. IT Places a Lot of Emphasis on Symbolism. There Are Five Conditions in Which IT is Most Appropriately Used. First, Institutional Theory Bears on Those Aspects of Organizational Life that Are So Exteriorized and Intersubjective that No Actor is Likely to Question Them". the Second Appropriate Condition is in Certain Kinds of Fields that Are Highly Institutionalized and Have Weak Technical Bases, or that Play a Trivial Role in the Allocation of Resources. Thirdly, IT is Appropriate in Situations that Are Already Well Institutionalized. the Fourth Condition is the Explanation of Long Term Change, Particularly Where Interests Are Stable. Finally, IT is Useful in Explaining Variations Across Nation-States. © 1992, Elsevier Science and Technology. All Rights Reserved.


Business and Information Technology

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 2023 The Authors, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 1992