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Institutional theory examines the processes and mechanisms by which structures, schemas, rules, and routines become established as authoritative guidelines for social behavior. It asks how such systems come into existence, how they diffuse, and what role they play in supplying stability and meaning to social behavior. It also considers how such arrangements deteriorate and collapse, and how their remnants shape successor structures.

One of the dominant theoretical perspectives at the end of the nineteenth century, institutional theory was eclipsed by other approaches during the first half of the twentieth century. In recent decades, however, institutional theory has experienced a remarkable recovery, entering the new century as one of the most vigorous and broad-based theoretical perspectives in the social sciences.

Institutional theory is not a single, unified system ...

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