1. Maria Alejandra Jimenez

    Dear Stephen
    I am a PhD student in Colombia, and currently researching within the field of Institutional Theory. I don´t remember how I got to your blog, but your title and coming from a blog caught my eye. I found your text extremely useful.
    Since you seem to have been studying this field much longer than me I have a question that I haven´t, been able to resolve: what is the difference between institutional theory and organizational institutionalism? it confuses me when in lit it is used indistinctly or I really have not grasp the epistemological differences. Do you know? thanks a lot. I will keep reading you.

    • Stephen McGrail

      Hi Maria,

      That’s an interesting question. I’ve grappled with similar issues given the many ‘institutionalisms’ one encounters in this intellectual space.

      The clearest response to your question addresses two things: 1) the empirical focus of inquiry; and 2) the analytical approach that is used.

      So, my understanding is that ‘organisational institutionalism’ is motivated by a core goal of understanding organisations (particularly forms of formal organisations) and, secondly, the approach that is taken is to apply an institutional perspective in order to better understand organisations. Therefore, organisational institutionalism is largely the application of institutional theory to examine and theorise organisations.

      Where this distinction get a bit less clear is regarding the theorisation of social structures. Most sociologists argue that both institutions and organisations are social structures and in this context some crossover is perhaps inevitable, resulting is less clear distinctions.

      Hope this helps.

      Kind regards,

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