How Institutions Form: Loose Coupling as Mechanism in Patterns of Industrial Bureaucracy

Hallett, Tim and Ventresca, Marc (2006) How Institutions Form: Loose Coupling as Mechanism in Patterns of Industrial Bureaucracy. American Behavioral Scientist, 49 (7). pp. 908-924.


This article uses a mid-century text to reengage a late-1970s concept to answer a new century question. The authors return to Alvin Gouldner's classic (1954) study Patterns of Industrial Bureaucracy to reexamine the "coupling" concept in contemporary institutionalism in a way that engages the following question: How do new institutional forms emerge? Based on Gouldner's detailed observations of work in a gypsum mine, the authors argue that coupling processes are key mechanisms in the emergence of institutional forms. Examining coupling as a dynamic process and activity helps us to understand how the institution of bureaucracy emerged in the gypsum mine and interacted with previous social orders of authority and control. Gouldner's account of coupling at the mine is a story of formal and informal power struggles and active conflict over meaning, bringing the process of local institutional formation into sharp relief.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: institutionalism; Alvin Gouldner; coupling processes; Patterns of Industrial Bureaucracy
Subject(s): Science & technology management
Strategy; Entrepreneurship & Global business
Centre: Institute for Science, Innovation and Society
Faculty of Strategy, Entrepreneurship and International Business
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2012 10:16
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2015 14:06

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