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Abstract FROM JURISDICTIONS TO INSTITUTIONS: THE CONTEMPORARY STUDY OF PUBLIC ORGANIZATIONS

Abstract

Governmental jurisdiction—the nation-state, the city, the province, the prefecture—was simply assumed in much of the history of the study of public organizations. In both theory and research the “public ” in public organization was taken to mean government. With the growing salience of nonprofit organizations, non-governmental organizations, contracting out, and privatization, and globalization, the jurisdictional assumption is gone. In contemporary theory and research our definition of the public in the study of public organizations now includes governmental jurisdictions as well as shadow governments and shadow bureaucracies. To accommodate the conceptual challenges embedded in the growing breadth of what is now meant by public organizations, the field has turned to institutional theory. Unlike jurisdictionally based theories of public organizations, deeply rooted in political science, institutional theory is rooted in sociology and is now highly interdisciplinary. The great advantage of institutional theory for the development of an empirically based understanding of public organizations and their behavior is its inclusive interdisciplinary qualities. Included under the big tent of institutional theory are: (1) those studying formal organizational structures

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