The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis

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Citation: Paul J. DiMaggio, Walter W. Powell (1991) The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis. The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis (RSS)
Internet Archive Scholar (search for fulltext): The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis
Wikidata (metadata): Q70672629
Tagged: Sociology (RSS)


The introduction to this book provides an overview and intellectual history of "New Institutionalism", largely in contrast to the institutionalism which came before it. The authors trace the evolution of, and points of departure from, a previous approach which examined institutions using behavioralist perspective, often directly tied to the perspective more common in economics: that institutions are the product of individual choices, and represent a rational way to optimize effort, manage risk, and minimize transaction costs. However, this approach does not explain how stable institutions are, and how little individuals may generally be able to do them. By contrast, new institutionalism draws attention to the ways in which institutions may be greater than the sum of individual choices of their employees, and instead restrict the range of choices available to their members. The account traces "new institutionalism" as it evolved along similar lines in sociology, international relations, and political science, as well as informing some aspects of economics.

Theoretical and Practical Relevance

New institutionalism draws our attention to features of institutions which go beyond the combination of individual choices in the strict/narrow rational choice model and instead becomes objects of study in and of themselves, with rules of their own. New institutionalism provides a broad framework and a series of observations about the nature of institutions: embedded in context, often difficult to change from within, and often more habitual than rational in their actions.