Micro Processes and Isomorphic Adaptation: Insights from the Struggle for the Soul of Economics at the University of the Holy Spirit

Abstract : As of July 1, 2010, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of the Holy Spirit (UHS) has a single Department of Economics. However, in the seven prior years, there were two economics departments, one that was resolutely mainstream and the other that was just as resolutely heterodox. What accounts for this unusual organizational arrangement? We show that this arrangement was part of a protracted conflict about the kind of economics that befits the Catholic identity of UHS that resulted, ultimately, in a full embrace of mainstream economics in July 2010. We draw on and amend Oliver's (1991) typology of organizational responses to institutional processes and investigate why and how UHS went from deliberate avoidance to full acquiescence to mainstream economics. Our analysis suggests that while organizations may be compelled to adapt to dominant norms, as institutional theorists contend, the process of adaptation involves a variety of conflicting moves and counter moves that engage identity and power and that require forceful leadership to resolve.
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Hamid Bouchikhi, John R. Kimberly. Micro Processes and Isomorphic Adaptation: Insights from the Struggle for the Soul of Economics at the University of the Holy Spirit. 2014. ⟨hal-00993435⟩

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