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Organizations and institutional complexity: An open polity perspective, Academy of Management Review


Changing environments often expose organizations to institutional logics that are at odds with other logics that were imprinted into organizations in the past, giving rise to conflict. We specifically propose that prior institutional environments imprint organizational coalitions and governance systems – the organization’s polity – and that these polity imprints explain variance in organizational change processes in response to new logics. We argue that such polity imprints shape how different organizational groups construe their conflicting interests in relation to new logics, how they mobilize for and against changes emanating from these logics, and how the outcomes of group conflict become stabilized. To develop this argument, we identify four ideal types of organizational polities, based on differences in the centralization of authority and the unity of organizational elites. Each ideal type gives rise to a characteristic pattern of how organizations process the advent of new logics. Our analysis demonstrates the utility of conceptualizing organizations as open polities - political entities that interact with their external environment – and the importance of taking historically imprinted political features of organizations into account in studies of organizational responses to institutional complexity.




Daniel Wäger, Klaus Weber

Date Published



Wäger, Daniel, and Klaus Weber. 2019. Organizations and institutional complexity: An open polity perspective. Academy of Management Review.(2)


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