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Isomorphism in Organization and Management Theory:The Case of Research on Sustainability

Organization & Environment , Volume 10 (4): 384 – Dec 1, 1997


Sage Publications
Copyright © 1997 by SAGE Publications
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Isomorphism in Organization and Management Theory:The Case of Research on Sustainability


The article highlights the consequences of isomorphism in organization studies by arguing that current theorizing and research in the discipline often unwittingly legitimize the institutional practices of mainstream business organization. By contrasting the literatures on sustainability in the business and nonbusiness literatures, the authors demonstrate that in organization studies, isomorphic pressures transform the connotation of sustainability to make it consonant with a dominant corporate model. The authors argue that subservience to the institutional models implicit in the conduct of mainstream business organization traps the discipline in a self-perpetuating cycle of normative and mimetic influences, leading scholars and practitioners to mutually reinforce and sustain institutional forms compatible with their jointly held belief systems. The results of the comparative review of the literatures on sustainability is expressed in six observations suggesting a more radical posture among scholars to enable the field to achieve its full potential for critical, generative, and reflexive scholarship.
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