Nearly three decades ago, the first neo-institutional arguments were formulated by John Meyer and colleagues such as Brian Rowan in 1977 and Richard Scott in 1983, and by Lynne Zucker in 1977. This new orientation proposed that formal organizational structure reflected not only technical demands and resource dependencies, but was also shaped by institutional forces, including rational myths, knowledge legitimated through the educational system and by the professions, public opinion, and the law. The core idea that organizations are deeply embedded in social and political environments suggested that organizational practices and structures are often either reflections of or responses to rules, beliefs, and conventions built into the wider environment.
This early work set in motion a line of research that continues to be active and vital, attracting a growing number of organizational researchers worldwide. The initial arguments emphasized the salience of symbolic systems, cultural scripts, and mental models in shaping institutional effects, but were somewhat vague with respect to the mechanisms by which culture and history cemented the social order and constrained organizational choices. Early accounts identified institutional effects as concerned principally with social stability, drawing attention to reproductive processes that function as stable patterns for sequences of activities that were routinely enacted (Jepperson, 1991:144-145). Institutionalization was defined in terms of the processes by which such patterns achieve normative and cognitive fixity, and become taken for granted (Meyer, Boli, and Thomas)
Subsequent contributions addressed the mechanisms that buttressed institutionalization. DiMaggio and Powell in 1983 highlighted coercive, normative, and mimetic processes of reproduction. Coercive factors involved political pressures and the force of the state, providing regulatory oversight