Professor of Entrepreneurship
JOURNAL ARTICLE | American Journal of Sociology | 118 | November 2012
Echoes of the Past: Organizational Foundings as Sources of an Institutional Legacy of Mutualism
Conventional wisdom in organization theory holds that the environment imprints organizations at the time of their birth.The authors 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, the authors 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.The authors 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.