Organizational “Failure” and Institutional Pluralism: A Case Study of an Urban School Closure

Vontrese Deeds*, Mary Pattillo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


We use the framework of institutional pluralism to provide new insights into a controversial process of market-based reform—school closures. School closure is a shock that highlights the dynamics and definitions of failure and surfaces values and meanings that might otherwise be hidden from consideration. Using qualitative data from a closing urban school, we disaggregate stakeholders’ competing conceptions of legitimacy and argue that failure is an interpretive process. We find that this school was closed based on the evaluative criteria of district administrators, occasioning disruptions for teachers, parents, and students that ultimately run counter to some goals of district administration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)474-504
Number of pages31
JournalUrban Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 10 2015


  • adolescent
  • ethnography
  • school reform
  • social
  • subjects
  • urban
  • urban education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Urban Studies


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