Institutional Change: A Review and Evaluation of Research Designs from 1977-2007
44 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2009
Date Written: January 13, 2009
The paper analyzes the research designs of empirical studies of institutional change published in leading management and sociology journals from 1977-2007. Generic institutional change research strategies are evaluated in terms of their strengths, weaknesses, rationale and appropriateness. Studies are further evaluated in terms of threats to their internal, external and construct validity; measurement types and classes; time scales; ethical considerations; and statistical conclusion validity. Overall, field studies, especially those drawing on archival data and event history analysis, are found to be the dominant research design. The discussion highlights four potential limitations of these prior institutional change studies related to (1) tensions between the theoretical and operational level of analysis, (2) data limitations with regard to understanding microprocesses of institutional change, (3) the possible misspecification of the effects of historical time on hazard rate independent of elapsed time, and (4) the reliance on archival measures which are themselves constituted by institutional pressures. Finally, the paper proposes a research design that would provide additional precision in the control and measurement of variables of interest.
Keywords: institutional change, research designs, methods, event history analysis
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