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Organizational Population Dynamics and Social Change

Michael T. Hannan
European Sociological Review
Vol. 4, No. 2 (Sep., 1988), pp. 95-109
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/522541
Page Count: 15
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Organizational Population Dynamics and Social Change
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Abstract

The population ecology of organizations explores the effects of social and historical transformations on the world of organizations as well as the role of organizational population dynamics in shaping social change. This approach departs from mainstream theory by shifting focus from the organization to the population and from adaptation to selection. This paper examines the developments in this approach, particularly studies of the effects of social conditions and population composition on rates of founding and mortality. Studies of diverse populations over their complete histories reveal that these rates are shaped by competitive and institutional processes. The paper also considers three processes by which the dynamics of organizational populations might shape patterns of long-term social change. First, diversity affects the capacity of a society to respond to uncertain future changes. Second, increases in the diversity of organizations increases the diversity of careers, which in turn might decrease inequality. Third, processes that affect variations in numbers of organizations and forms affect levels of concentration of dominance and control in society.

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