Thursday, April 12, 2012

GREVE Henrich, RAO Hayagreeva
Echoes of the Past: Organizational Foundings as Sources of an Institutional Legacy of Mutualism American Journal of Sociology 118, 3 (2012) 635-675

Conventional wisdom in organization theory holds that the environment imprints organizations at the time of their birth. We reverse the imagery and propose that early founding of a non-profit organization in one domain imprints a community with a general institutional legacy of collective civic action. Consequently, the community is more likely to later establish new non-profit organizations in a different domain. Empirically, we show that Norwegian communities that were the earliest to establish mutual fire insurance organizations and mutual savings banks in the 19th century were more likely to experience foundings of cooperatives stores in the 20th century. We discuss how the founding of formal non-profit organizations creates an institutional legacy that amplifies variations in the civic capacity of communities and outline how it complements accounts of organizational imprinting.