Roads to Institutionalization: The Remaking of Boundaries between Public and Private Science

Jeannette A. Colyvas, Walter W. Powell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

296 Scopus citations


We analyze the process of institutionalization, arguing that it is the outcome of the self-reinforcing feedback dynamics of heightened legitimacy and deeper taken-for-grantedness, using novel techniques to document and trace this change over a 30-year period. Our focus is the remaking of the boundaries between public and private science, an institutional transformation that joined science and property, two formerly distinct spheres. The setting is Stanford University, an early adopter and pioneer in the formulation of policies of technology transfer. We illustrate how archival materials may be systematically assessed to capture notable changes in organizational practices and categories, reflecting both local and field-level processes. The paper concludes with a set of indicators that gauge low, medium, and high elements of institutional change. We argue that this approach allows for more precision in measurement and enables comparisons across studies, two standard critiques of the institutional approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationResearch in Organizational Behavior An Annual Series of Analytical Essays and Critical Reviews
EditorsBarry Staw
Number of pages49
StatePublished - 2006

Publication series

NameResearch in Organizational Behavior
ISSN (Print)0191-3085

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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