Institutional Theory and Organizational Change
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Institutional Theory and Organizational Change

Staffan Furusten

Whether or not they are aware of it, managers do not fully control the nature and timing of their decisions. Their framework of action is limited by institutional constraints in the surrounding environment – what is technically, economically, socially and culturally possible in different contexts. With a better understanding of their environment – and how it affects how they think, what they do and why they do it – decision-makers are also better able to make more carefully considered decisions about organizational change. In this book Staffan Furusten discusses why it is difficult for organizations around the world to resist the pressures of the institutional environment and how organizations worldwide – big and small, private and public – are becoming increasingly alike.
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Chapter 1: Organizing beyond management and market

Staffan Furusten


Anyone who travels the world quickly discovers that there are many similarities between countries with respect to what they look like and how they work. We see, for example, a great likeness in the foods people eat. McDonald’s restaurants can be found in cities worldwide, and pizzerias are everywhere from small Swedish communities like Forshaga (north of Karl- stad) and Mölnbo on the outskirts of Södertälje with only a few thousand residents, to global metropolises with millions. Soft drinks like Coca-Cola and Fanta can also be purchased almost everywhere around the globe. From a local perspective, in this case Sweden, for many families Fridays are associated with a laid- back evening with Mexican food. No tacos – no cosy Friday dinners! The similarities between what goes on in different places are found in many different areas. For example, all across the world people listen to the same kind of music, even if there may also be a local variety of music characteristic of a particular region. However, even this is subject to globalization under the label of ‘ethno-music’. We also see the same clothing styles wherever we go. Local variations naturally exist, but if we look at how people dress in urban centres around the world, the similarities are striking. For example, in Sweden in the early years of the 2010s, children and seniors alike are wearing NY Yankees baseball caps! It is interesting to note that even when we try to be different, we tend to do things in similar ways no matter where we are in the world.

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