Entropy and institutional theory
Aksom, H. (2022). Entropy and institutional theory. International journal of organizational analysis, Early online. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOA-03-2022-3213
Published inInternational journal of organizational analysis
© Emerald Publishing Limited
Purpose Once introduced and conceptualized as a factor that causes erosion and decay of social institutions and subsequent deinstitutionalization, the notion of entropy is at odds with predictions of institutional isomorphism and seems to directly contradict the tendency toward ever-increasing institutionalization. The purpose of this paper is to offer a resolution of this theoretical inconsistency by revisiting the meaning of entropy and reconceptualizing institutionalization from an information-theoretic point of view. Design/methodology/approach It is a theoretical paper that offers an information perspective on institutionalization. Findings A mistaken understanding of the nature and role of entropy in the institutional theory is caused by conceptualizing it as a force that counteracts institutional tendencies and acts in opposite direction. Once institutionalization and homogeneity are seen as a product of natural tendencies in the organizational field, the role of entropy becomes clear. Entropy manifests itself at the level of information processing and corresponds with increasing uncertainty and the decrease of the value of information. Institutionalization thus can be seen as a special case of an increase in entropy and a decrease of knowledge. Institutionalization is a state of maximum entropy. Originality/value It is explained why institutionalization and institutional persistence are what to be expected in the long run and why information entropy contributes to this tendency. Contrary to the tenets of the institutional work perspective, no intentional efforts of individuals and collective actors are needed to maintain institutions. In this respect, the paper contributes to the view of institutional theory as a theory of self-organization. ...
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- Kauppakorkeakoulu 
Additional information about fundingThe financial support by the Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics is gratefully acknowledged.
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