Organizing Complex Projects from Neo-institutional Perspectives

17 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2022

See all articles by Jörg Sydow

Jörg Sydow

Freie Universität Berlin

Jonas Söderlund

University of Linkoping

Date Written: January 20, 2022


The organization of complex projects relies more than that of simpler ones on institutions. Neo-institutional theory, not only the most popular branch of institutional theory, but also of organization theory more generally, has for decades emphasized the role of institutions, internal as well as external ones, in organizing processes – and has recently played a central role in advancing project studies. This chapter will present different streams of neo-institutional theory with core concepts such as fields, isomorphism, legitimacy, institutional logics, institutional entrepreneurship, and institutional work – and explore the contributions that neo-institutional perspectives have made over the years towards a better understanding of organizing complex projects, not least so-called “institutional projects”.

Keywords: project, temporary system, institution, neo-institutional theory, field, events

Suggested Citation

Sydow, Jörg and Soderlund, Jonas, Organizing Complex Projects from Neo-institutional Perspectives (January 20, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Jörg Sydow (Contact Author)

Freie Universität Berlin ( email )

School of Business & Economics
Garystr. 21
D-14195 Berlin
49-30-83853782 (Phone)


Jonas Soderlund

University of Linkoping ( email )

Överstegatan 30
S-581 83 Linkoping

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