On imitation and isomorphism

Our friends at orgtheory discussed an interesting dilemma on institutional theory last week and this week that might be worth picking up to continue the discussion about institutionalism and the infrastructuralist agenda that we started last year: It seems that while institutional isomorphism (or more specific: mimetic isomorphism) is one of the most cited and most loved idea in institutionalism — although

If we look at various popular account of individual action in cultural sociology (e.g., toolkit theory), many don’t produce isomorphism. 

The way of putting the question might be a bit unfair: linking the “puzzle” directly to Colemans boat and to the debate on microfoundations of institutionalism sets the field for the struggle about the best microfoundation – as if the only task is to name a micro-theory that can explain institutional isomorphism. But the interesting question is: what is isomorphism in the first place and how on earth can we presuppose that practices of immitation will lead to isomorphisms? 

Maybe this is an entry point of bringing together institutional and infrastructuralist thinking again. When we look an infrastructural settings we are used to see entities that look similar but in fact are enacted in various, heterogenous forms.

This entry was posted in STS, Uncategorized by Jan. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jan

Jan studied Sociology, Political Sciences and Computer Science. As a Research Group Leader at the MCTS in Munich he connects Sociological Theory and Science and Technology Studies by working on problems of social structure and infrastructures, human and non-human agency and discourse and material culture.