Institutional and evolutonary organisation theory

ORG518NFB Institutional and evolutonary organisation theory

  • Topics


    Course outline:

    Institutional theory: Where to apply, what are its advantages and disadvantages

    -Elements of institutional analysis, theory and empirical research

    - Organizational fields and social systems

    - Institutional change


    Evolutionary organization theory:

    - Entrepreneurs and the emergence of new organizations

    - Organizational boundaries and forms

    - Organizational transformation and social change

    - Populations of organizations

    - Research strategies in evolutionary theory



  • Learning outcome

    Learning outcome

    Participants will obtain an in-depth and critical knowledge of institutional and evolutionary organization theory. We will also emphasize research methods within both theoretical fields.

    The course will emphasize research in institutionalization, institutional maintenance and change. We cover relevant fields of institutional theory and analysis. The emphasis will be on organizations and organizational fields. We will also cover aspects of institutional environments that influence organizational and individual behavior. We examine how symbols, relations, routines, artifacts, and other carriers transmit institutional arrangements across time and space.

    Evolutionary theory emphasizes the emergence, growth, and transformation of organizations. Entrepreneurship is one essential part of this approach. We will also cover organizations and social change, and how new organizational forms and populations emerge. At the organizational level, we will examine the conditions under which organizations are founded and the factors affecting their composition, survival, and growth. At the population level, we will discuss how foundings and disbandings affect populations and what contributes to foundings and disbandings. Lastly, we will look at communities of organizations and relations between populations.

    The course emphasizes readings of original contributions, which is found in several books and journals to evaluate the state of institutional theories. The goal is to develop analytical and methodological skills of the students, so that they can evaluate theories, models, methods, and design research projects.


    Learning outcomes:

    - The students will learn about the importance of the legal environment of organizations and organizational behavior to understand what are limitations, how they provide opportunities and how relations between people and organizations are regulated, and what drives evolution.

    - The students will learn how knowledge is carried by professions and their role in organizations, and how knowledge is institutionalized and diffused between organizations, and how development of knowledge affects evolution.

    - The students will get an understanding of how formal and informal rules develop and diffuse in organizational and social systems.

    - The students will learn how cognition, rule based behavior, and social structures affect individual and organizational behavior.

    - The students will learn how organizations change and how social change and organizational change influence each other.

    - The students will learn how evolutionary processes affect founding and disbanding of organizations, and how communities of organizations affect these processes and rates.

    - The students will learn what are crucial research topics in these fields, and what are the appropriate research methods.


  • Teaching


    Intensive course, 30 hours (5.0 ETCS), during the fall term 2012. Week 42 (15.10.2012-19.10.2012). Course format: In the morning, we meet from 9:30 until 12:00. After lunch, we start at 13:15 until 16:00. For each day, we have assigned readings & preparation questions. You should prepare answers to the day´s questions before coming to class so that you get the maximum value from the lectures. You will find tentative answers to all questions in the readings. Many of the questions call for speculation on your part, and you will have to extrapolate from the readings to create an answer.





  • Required prerequisites

    Required prerequisites

    The students should have some basic knowledge of social science research methods, preferably historical, ethnographic, narrative, and statistical methods.

  • Requirements for course approval

    Requirements for course approval

    To pass the course, each student has to actively participate in the course, present articles, and write a term paper of about 10-15 pages, which should be an independent treatment of a topic, e.g. a critical review or comparisons of theories, models, or articles. A paper can also be written to interpret empirical findings, or compare how two or more different approaches to institutional theory treat one phenomenon. Abstracting literature is not acceptable. Instead, the students should show their ability to present critique, formulate research questions, and contribute to theoretical thinking.



  • Assessment


     The term paper has to be finished by the beginning of the spring term.


  • Grading Scale

    Grading Scale

    Grading: Pass or Fail

  • Computer tools

    Computer tools

    Ability to use the web, library databases, word processing, file transfers, and e-mail; a good knowledge of your operating system, some knowledge in handling spreadsheets and organizing data.



  • Semester



  • Literature


    Required readings:

    - Scott, W. Richard. Institutions and organizations: Ideas and interests. Newbury Park,

    CA: Sage Publications (3rd edition) 2008.

    - Aldrich, Howard E. and Ruef, Martin. Organizations Evolving. Los Angeles: Sage Publications. (2nd edition) 2006.

    - Academy of Management Journal, special research forum on institutional theory and institutional change, Vol. 45 no.1: 45-294, 2002.

    - Books and articles will be added to the list.



ECTS Credits
Teaching language
Spring, Autumn

Course responsible

Arent Greve, Department of Strategy and Management

Howard Aldrich, Department of Sociology, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA