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Institutional Isomorphism and New Technologies

Institutional Isomorphism and New Technologies
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Author(s): Francesco Amoretti (University of Salerno, Italy) and Fortunato Musella (University of Naples Federico II, Italy)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 6
Source title: Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch325

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Abstract

Technological factor is mainly underestimated in the literature on institutions and organizations. Although organizational studies and information technology are disciplines dedicated respectively to studying socio-political and technical aspects of organizing, cross-fertilization among such fields has remained quite limited. Only rarely the variable of technology has been interpreted as a crucial element for explaining institutional uniformity. From a more general point of view, changing technical factors have been considered “relatively unimportant sources of organizational change in a mature organizational field” (Yang, 2003, p. 433). Only after the spread of the information and communication technologies (ICTs), a good number of studies has started to consider the relationships among information technology and organizational structure (Guthrie, 1999). Neo-institutional analysis on the use of information technology was mostly directed at showing how the embeddedness of organizational actors “in cognitive, cultural, social, and institutional structures influences the design, perceptions, and uses of the Internet and related [information technology]” (Fountain, 2001, p. 88). Therefore, it can been argued that most of the literature on this field concerns the way in which technology represents a social construct, because it shows that any technological application is strongly influenced by social aspects, such as cognitive frames, political culture, local traditions and so forth. Yet, a few contributions have been dedicated until now to investigate how institutions change through the introduction of new technologies. Although technological innovation is said to be the source of variation in a given institutional context, as “new technology offers new possibilities for solving problems [and] new practices arise when innovative organizations take advantage of its novel benefits” (Leblebici, 1991, p. 335), little attention is focused on technological variables. Despite such disregard, in the following article some examples of the strategic use of information and communication technologies will be included, with specific reference to pressures exerted by ICTs for producing “institutional isomorphism.”

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