Organizational Change and Development the Essay

  • Length: 10 pages
  • Sources: 12
  • Subject: Business - Management
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #2367003

Excerpt from Essay :

Exploring the complex web of meaning and interpretation attached to concepts like nostalgia would illuminate aspects of resistance in ways that current rationality-based theories do not. Greater attention to affect, identity, symbolism, aesthetics, and related subjects would provide a useful balance to change and innovation research. It is important to acknowledge the many sides of human beings and consider how they may figure in starting, sustaining, and resisting change.

We shall now propose a process model for understanding institutional change at the organizational field level of analysis. This process model consists of five overlapping stages of institutional change: (1) pressures for change; (2) the sources of new practices from institutional entrepreneurs; (3) the processes of deinstitutionalization and reinstitutionalization; (4) the dynamics of deinstitutionalization and re- institutionalization; and (5) reinstitutionalization and stability. We see this process model as useful for integrating much of the literature on institutional change. While this literature has been criticized for its static focus on convergence toward similar and stable states, it has always included an interest in change, and we use the process model to indicate the specific contributions of existing studies.

At the heart of institutional theory is the notion of institutions as ?socially constructed, routine- reproduced programs or rules systems' (Jepperson, 1991, p. 149). Ways of organizing and acting become taken-for-granted because of their embeddedness and legitimacy. Institutional change, therefore, is the movement from one institutionally prescribed and legitimated pattern of practices to another. As such it involves processes of de- and reinstitutionalization. According to Scott (2001), organizational fields are instrumental in disseminating and reproducing these socially constructed expectations and practices. Organizational fields are ?sets of organizations that, in the aggregate, constitute an area of institutional life' (DiMaggio and Powell, 1983, p. 148) and those patterns of interaction are defined by shared systems of meaning (Scott, 1994). According to Seo and Creed (2002, p. 222), ?during the past two decades, institutional theorists have been able to offer more insights into the processes that explain institutional stability than those that explain institutional change.'

That is, institutional theory has had a primary emphasis on showing how and why organizations adopt institutionalized practices and systems -- the question of why organizations come to be more and more like each other- so there has been an emphasis on the dynamics of convergence and institutionalization. The presumed endpoint of much of this theoretical work has been the steady state, a mature organizational field that has stronger forces holding it together than forces that tend to disruption and change. As Holm (1995, p. 398), put it, ?The processes by which institutions are formed and reformed, which tend to be interest- driven and highly political, have been ignored. The result is an institutional theory that cannot explain how institutions are created and how they change.' However, this focus is changing (Barley and Tolbert, 1997; Dacin, Goodstein, and Scott, 2002; Lawrence, Winn and Jennings, 2001; Oliver, 1992; Tolbert and Zucker, 1996), and recent theorizing has begun to point out the potential for addressing radical as well as convergent change. Indeed, Dacin et al. (2002, p. 45) suggest that ?the topic of institutional change has emerged as a central focus for organizational researchers.' We believe that there is a need for a process model that explains how and why institutions change. Little attention has been given to understanding how the effects of isomorphism are brought about (rather than to the outcome itself), so that little is known of how and why institutionalized practices within a field atrophy or change.

Tolbert and Zucker (1996, p. 175), ), in their excellent review of institutional theory, point out that, ?despite the sizeable body of work defined as part of this tradition, there has been surprisingly little attention given to conceptualizing and specifying the processes of institutionalization.' Similarly, Seo and Creed (2002) argue the processes that provide an essential understanding of institutional change ?have not been adequately delineated in several recent efforts to explain institutional change? (p. 223).

It is our challenge and object to provide that adequate delineation. The paper presents a stage circular model of the processes and dynamics of institutional change. In developing the model, we draw on, and extend, the discussion and model presented in Greenwood, Suddaby, and Hinings (2002). Before describing the model, we review the literature on change in organizational fields. We then outline the role of institutional archetypes. Subsequently, each of the five stages is discussed. We conclude with a discussion of what this model means for future research. Change in Organizational Fields DiMaggio and Powell (1983, pp. 148-149) define an organizational field as: Sets of organizations that, in the aggregate, constitute an area of institutional life: key suppliers, resource and product consumers, regulatory agencies, and other organizations that produce similar services or products.'

As Scott (2001, p. 137) puts it, ?most analysts adopt a commonsense definition of field, a set of diverse organizations engaged in a similar function.' In his earlier work, Scott (1994) suggests that patterns of interaction between organizational communities are defined by shared systems of meaning. Meaning systems establish the boundaries of communities of organizations, defining appropriate ways of behaving, membership, and appropriate relationships between these communities of organizations (Lawrence, 1999).

The notion of organizational field thus draws on a social constructionist view (Berger and Luckman, 1967; Zucker, 1977, 1987). Collective beliefs and values emerge from repeated interactions between organizations. Organizations develop typifications of their exchanges, which are objectified, thus constituting social reality. Behaving in accordance with this socially constructed reality reduces ambiguity and uncertainty for organizations. Reciprocally shared understandings of appropriate practice permit ordered exchanges. Over time, these shared understandings, or collective beliefs, become reinforced by isomorphic processes (coercive, normative, and mimetic), which both disseminate and reproduce coded prescriptions of social reality, thus pressing conformity upon constituent communities. Deviations from such prescriptions trigger attempts to justify (i.e., legitimize) departures from the social norm (Deephouse, 1999; Elsbach, 1994; Lamertz and Baum, 1997; Miller and Chen, 1995) or, perhaps, set in train new social constructions and their consequential change and trans- formation of the organizational field. The concept of structuration captures this process of gradual maturity and specification of roles, behaviors, and interactions of organizational fields.

But boundaries and behaviors are not fixed: structuration does not produce perfect reproduction (Goodrick and Salancik, 1996; Ranson, Hinings, and Green- wood, 1980). The boundaries of organizational com- munities are constantly under review and subject to redefinition and defense; they are the outcome of ongoing claims and counterclaims (Greenwood, Suddaby, and Hinings, 2002). Institutional processes may, generally, work to- ward field stability. However, there are always differences of interpretation and emphasis that may be temporarily resolved by socially negotiated consensus. The appearance of stability is thus probably misleading (e.g. Sahlin-Andersson, 1996, p. 74) and fields should be seen ?not as static but evolving?…

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