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The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields

Paul J. DiMaggio and Walter W. Powell
American Sociological Review
Vol. 48, No. 2 (Apr., 1983), pp. 147-160
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095101
Page Count: 14
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The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields
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Abstract

What makes organizations so similar? We contend that the engine of rationalization and bureaucratization has moved from the competitive marketplace to the state and the professions. Once a set of organizations emerges as a field, a paradox arises: rational actors make their organizations increasingly similar as they try to change them. We describe three isomorphic processes--coercive, mimetic, and normative--leading to this outcome. We then specify hypotheses about the impact of resource centralization and dependency, goal ambiguity and technical uncertainty, and professionalization and structuration on isomorphic change. Finally, we suggest implications for theories of organizations and social change.

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