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Old 05-07-07, 11:48 AM   #1
killsurfcity
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just curious, sociological principles...

i was thinking about it today, and i was wondering if there is a sociological principle that describes the propensity of organizations/groups to adopt the practices of larger, more established groups, even if there is no proof that said practices are beneficial. in a way i guess it is competition, but it is also based on an assumption about success.

anyone have any ideas? i work for a medium size organization and management is constantly apeing larger companies practcies, with little or no thought to their validity or relevance in our organization. i was thinking if i could find some documentation on this phenonenon and why it may not be a logically sound practice, it could help me dissuade them from making some bad decisions.

thanks.

edit: thanks mod!

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Old 05-07-07, 11:55 AM   #2
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CMMI hitting there too?
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Old 05-07-07, 12:09 PM   #3
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I think there's something about that in The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.
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Old 05-07-07, 12:11 PM   #4
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indoctrination?
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Old 05-07-07, 12:29 PM   #5
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Why do they do it? fopr the same reason most of us do stuff the way we have been taught or seen or read about or heard about other people do it: it is a heck of a lot easier to copy than to invent, and most of the time, inventing is not necessary or even appropriate. Hence adminitions not to re-invent the wheel.

In organizational/bureaucratic terms, it is also much safer. If you follow a "proven" formula and it doesn't work, at least you can defend yourself by having gone with the proven, prudent choice. On the other hand, if you try something new ans it doesn't work . . . . well, transfers to the Greenland office were invented for such things.

How to stop it? First, lots of luck. Trying to redirect even a moderate-sized organization is like steering an oil supertanker - it can be done, but it take a bunch of lead time and it doesn't happen quickly. My best thought is that you are more likely to succeed if you can find examples of the kind of policies you think make more sense having been implemented in an organization closer to the size and mission of yours. It still may not work, but at leat you would be speaking more or less the same language.

Keep in mind, this is all coming from someone with zero management experience and who thinks sociology is the study of obvious conclusions.
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Old 05-07-07, 12:38 PM   #6
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This is really a cross section of economics and sociology. There are a few bits (actually quite a lot now that I look at it) in The New Economic Sociology: A Reader, Editor: Frank Dobbin. If you search the Harvard Business School (HBS) Working Knowledge article databse you will find more on it as well. If you still want more, subscribe to The Economist and read atleast 1 article about this every 6 months.
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Old 05-07-07, 01:57 PM   #7
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interesting points mentioned here, but i must stress again, that we are not talking about "proven" processes. we are talking about things that make no good sense. for instance, i had a client who wanted a website done and specified that they wanted their site to be about 200 pixels smaller than the average size and that their fonts should all be about 2 points smaller than average. when asked why, they said aquent was the biggest company in their industry and that's what they did.
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Old 05-07-07, 02:04 PM   #8
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"Group Think"

"Herd Mentality"

Imitative behavior (Applies to N groups as well as individuals)
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Old 05-07-07, 02:08 PM   #9
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ya'll wait right here, I just wanna go see where these lemmings are going!

Noooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!
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Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 05-07-07, 02:16 PM   #10
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person = smart

people = stupid
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Old 05-07-07, 02:22 PM   #11
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It is called "institutional isomorphism" and was coined by the sociologists Paul DiMaggio and W. Powell in the article "The iron cage revisited: institutional isomorphism and collective rationality in organizational fields". I believe it was published in the American Sociological Review in the early 1980s.
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Old 05-07-07, 05:19 PM   #12
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snap!
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Old 05-07-07, 05:22 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barba
It is called "institutional isomorphism" and was coined by the sociologists Paul DiMaggio and W. Powell in the article "The iron cage revisited: institutional isomorphism and collective rationality in organizational fields". I believe it was published in the American Sociological Review in the early 1980s.
Sociology Grad student?
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Old 05-07-07, 05:26 PM   #14
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Sociology Grad student?
Sadly
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Old 05-07-07, 05:28 PM   #15
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Sadly


What exactly do you want to do?
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Old 05-07-07, 05:30 PM   #16
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Sadly
Really? I had always thought that if I had time for a double major it would have been sociology.
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Old 05-07-07, 05:32 PM   #17
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Really? I had always thought that if I had time for a double major it would have been sociology.
Sociology is super interesting, but a soc degree is pretty much worthless, in terms of actual jobs IMO.
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Old 05-07-07, 05:33 PM   #18
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Actually, sociology is a great subject to study. It provides a lot of insights into a wide range of issue. Plus you learn snappy phrases like "institutional isomorphism". BostonFixed, I currently work in institutional research though I also enjoy teaching.
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Old 05-07-07, 06:35 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BostonFixed
Sociology is super interesting, but a soc degree is pretty much worthless, in terms of actual jobs IMO.
I could make the same argument about my law degree, except that law school wasn't super interesting.
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Old 05-07-07, 07:40 PM   #20
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Quote:
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I could make the same argument about my law degree, except that law school wasn't super interesting.
+1.
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Old 05-08-07, 10:10 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barba
It is called "institutional isomorphism" and was coined by the sociologists Paul DiMaggio and W. Powell in the article "The iron cage revisited: institutional isomorphism and collective rationality in organizational fields". I believe it was published in the American Sociological Review in the early 1980s.
awesome, i'm going to read up on that. i have always had real issues with groups because of this. i think groups of any kind are one of the biggest stumbling blocks to real progress. look at science and string theory. those guys are like a cult now.

in one way i think avoiding groups is good because i avoid the group think mentality, in other ways its kind of isolating. like when you discover something and get really excited about it and have no one to tell... even if you do have a good group of friends.
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Old 05-08-07, 10:34 AM   #22
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Quote:
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Sociology is super interesting, but a soc degree is pretty much worthless, in terms of actual jobs IMO.
Christians in Action (Ahem, I mean CIA) would have Sociology grad.
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Old 05-08-07, 06:57 PM   #23
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Quote:
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Sociology is super interesting, but a soc degree is pretty much worthless, in terms of actual jobs IMO.
I graduated with a degree in Sociology. What a great education. Then I went back to school to learn something usefull.
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