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Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa
e-ISSN: 1647-7251
Vol. 10, Nº. 1 (May-October 2019), pp. 1-13
INSTITUTIONAL ISOMORPHISM AND THE PERSISTENCE OF THE PRESENT
INTERNATIONAL ORDER
Vítor Ramon Fernandes
vitor.fernandes60@gmail.com
Assistant Professor at the Lusíada University (Portugal) and Visiting Scholar at the University of
Cambridge (Wolfson College and, previously, at the Department of Politics and International
Studies)
Abstract
International orders reflect the settled arrangements that define relations between states in
certain moments in history. Order breaks down when the adopted set of organizational
principles that define roles and the terms of those relations cease to operate. International
organizations are a central feature of the current order and an important source of legitimacy.
This article extracts a set of ideas derived from the new sociological institutionalism literature
in organizational analysis and sets out an argument showing their possible implications for
the present order. I argue that there are certain organizational features related to institutional
isomorphism that may well support the persistence and maintenance of the current
international order. The argument is based on the homogeneity of practices and arrangements
found in different institutions and organizations. The persistence of those practices and their
reproduction in structures are to some extent self-sustaining and may provide additional
support to the idea that the current American-led international order may last longer than is
often thought while allowing for changes in the distribution of power.
Keywords
International Organization; New Institutionalism; Institutional Isomorphism; Organizational
Field; International Order
How to cite this article
Fernandes, Vítor Ramon (2019). "Institutional isomorphism and the persistence of the present
international order". JANUS.NET e-journal of International Relations, Vol. 10, N.º 1, May-
October 2019. Consulted [online] on the date of the last visit, https://doi.org/10.26619/1647-
7251.10.1.1
Article received on May 27, 2018 and accepted for publication on February 02, 2019
JANUS.NET, e-journal of International Relations
e-ISSN: 1647-7251
Vol. 10, Nº. 1 (May-October 2019), pp. 1-13
Institutional isomorphism and the persistence of the present international order
Vítor Ramon Fernandes
2
INSTITUTIONAL ISOMORPHISM AND THE PERSISTENCE OF THE PRESENT
INTERNATIONAL ORDER
Vítor Ramon Fernandes
Introduction
The current international order
1
is considered to be changing. There are power shifts
taking place and the question regarding the nature of that change is a crucial one.
Critically, it matters whether the power transitions that are taking place will lead to a
bipolar order, or even to a multipolar one. But, in addition, it will be important to see
whether there will be major changes in the operating nature of that order, or whether it
will retain many of its main features, namely with respect to the role and importance of
international organizations.
2
Taking stock of the importance that international organizations and other institutions
have had in the creation and maintenance of the current international order, the main
argument presented here is that there is also a set of ideas that arises from sociology
that may help sustain it. There are a number of organizational features pertaining to
organizational theory related to institutional isomorphism, in particular, that should be
drawn attention to given that they are likely to have an important influence regarding
the way that international organizations operate and which, as a result, may provide
significant support to the persistence of the current international order. These ideas
follow from work related to the new institutionalism
3
in organization theory and sociology
- the new sociological institutionalism.
This approach rejects rational-actor models and considers institutions as independent
variables in alternative to the more conventional approaches that take institutions as the
consequence of motives and actions based simply on rational behaviour (Powell and
DiMaggio, 1991). The new sociological institutionalism is the most influential theory in
recent decades that studies matters related to institutional development. It is based on
1
International order is considered to be the set of norms, rules and arrangement between states that guide
the interactions between them, and, in particular, how major powers interact between them and with other
states (see, for example, Ikenberry, 2001, 2014).
2
International organizations are defined here, essentially, as organizations that have representatives from
three or more states supporting a permanent secretariat and that are assigned to perform certain tasks in
order to achieve certain defined and common objectives. Defined in this sense, it only encompasses
international governmental organizations. However, although the focus of the analysis is centred on those,
much of what is argued here in this article also applies to other international organizations, namely,
nongovernmental organizations. On this matter, see for instance, Archer (2014).
3
As noted by Powell and DiMaggio (1991: 1): “there are many ‘new institutionalisms’”. Here, I will be
concerned with the New Institutionalism in organizational studies and sociology. Its characteristics will
become clearer as I proceed.
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Vítor Ramon Fernandes
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arguments that differ quite significantly from the more common line of research
concerning the role and importance of international organizations, most notably in the
creation and maintenance of the current international order within liberal institutional
theory and regime theory. It is, nevertheless, complementary to it.
The remainder of the article unfolds as follows: In the first section, I present a brief
analysis of the current international order with a view to characterizing the overall context
of the main argument. Here, in addition to a number of general considerations about the
nature and stability of the present order while also contextualizing some of the power
shifts that are taking place, most notably with the rise of China I review the importance
that international organizations have had in that order until now. The second section lays
out a number of considerations on the nature of international organizations, drawing
attention to their organizing principles and elements as bureaucracies. Here, I point out
some of the most important features of international organizations as bureaucracies from
an organizational theory viewpoint in order to highlight their importance and relevance
in international politics. In this section, I also discuss the importance of power in the
context of international organizations. In the next section, I illustrate some of the most
well-known approaches that can be applied when studying organizations, in order to
contextalize the perspective that I will follow in presenting my main argument. Some of
the differences between these perspectives are also highlighted. The following section
presents the main arguments on institutional isomorphism based on the work of Meyer
and Rowan (1977), and DiMaggio and Powell (1983), given that they are essential to the
main argument. After that, I argue that the mechanisms identified as sources of
isomorphism, and indeed of some homogenization resulting from institutional
isomorphism, are likely to play an important role in the maintenance of the current
international order. The article ends with a conclusion of the main arguments.
The enduring stability of the current international order
A great deal has been written in the international relations literature about the role of
international organizations and other institutions in the present international order, most
notably, how they have been an essential part of the current order since the end of World
War II. One very important attribute has been to provide collective legitimacy. The latter
is very important, given that “Legitimacy is a property of a rule or rulemaking institution
which itself exerts a pull toward compliance on those addressed normatively because
those addressed believe that the rule or institutions has come into being and operates in
accordance with generally accepted principles of right process” (Franck, 1990: 24).
International orders reflect the settled arrangements that define relations between states
in certain moments in history. Order breaks down when the adopted set of organizational
principles that define roles and the terms of those relations cease to operate. Agreed-
upon rules and institutions limit state power, and international organizations are a central
feature of the current order as well as an important source of legitimacy (Ikenberry,
1998/99, 2001, 2014).
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States has enjoyed unparalleled power
in the international system, with a level of power preponderance that no other state has
matched in modern history. For that reason, this order is characterized as unipolar. Time
will tell if, and when, we will return to a different kind of order, bipolar, as was the case
during the cold war or to a multipolar one as many predicted would occur soon after the
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end of the Soviet Union. However, so far this has not happened. It does, however, seem
likely that the United States and China will continue to be the two greatest powers in the
international system in the coming decades as China’s economy continues to grow at a
fast pace, possibly even surpassing the United States on a number of fronts and despite
still lagging very significantly in terms of military power.
4
It will be crucial to watch how the relationship between these two countries,
notwithstanding others, will unfold. Largely, it will also be about the relashionship
between China and the liberal Western order that emerged after World War II through
the leadership of the Unites States (Ikenberry, 2013). China still seems quite far away
from becoming the first power, or superpower, in the world.
5
It does not seem to wish to
lead the world in a missionary way either. Nevertheless, China will want to push its
interests forward and that will probably mean that world power will be shared between
the United States and China at some point in time. In this context, there is a possibility
that these countries succeed in finding ways to manage their differences and will be able
to develop the prospects for political, economic and security cooperation leading to peace
and stability in the international system. Furthermore, while China will likely want to
reform parts of the postwar international rules-based order overtime in order to better
suit its interest, this may occur without major changes in the way it operates.
Nevertheless, the possibility of conflict in the future exists if rivalries are not contained.
The diplomacy of Beijing has sometimes been considered challenging, somewhat
disturbing and often disrupting on several occasions (Christensen, 2011; Shambaugh,
2011). There is also some scepticism on what concerns the relationship between powerful
states and international organizations. In addition, powerful states also often bend many
of the international organizations norms to their will. Notwithstanding, membership of
these organizations and adherence to the norms that they embody can be used as a way
to demonstrate power and gain advantage. China will continue to try to limit and set
boundaries on the United States power and international organizations can be effective
institutions for that purpose.
All said, this order has also been relatively stable despite some significant shifts in the
global distribution of power that seem hard to deny and are still taking place.
6
This
stability seems due to a number of institutional factors, namely, a number of
“constitutional characteristics” (Ikenberry, winter 1998/1999: 45) that mitigate the
existing differences in power between states and their implications, thereby reducing the
need for states to balance. With its rules and norms, institutions are therefore a major
component of the international order, exhibiting what Ikenberry (winter 1998/1999: 46)
calls “increasing returnscharacteristics. That may be considered relevant in the sense
that the more they become a part of the present international order, the more they help
maintain it and make it more difficult to overturn it. Furthermore, the current liberal
international order can be organized in different ways. It has evolved over time and can
4
Military power is a crucial element here, notably in terms of polarity. The considerable difference still existing
between the United States and China on this front is, from my perspective, considered essential for
characterizing the international system as unipolar.
5
It remains to be seen if it ever will.
6
As one anonymous referee pointed out to me, examples such as the creation of the Asian Infrastructure
Investment Bank that is somewhat considered as a competitor of the World Bank can be seen as
resulting from the inability of the latter to allow changes in the distribution of power. My argument differs
in the sense that I regard that situation as one possible circumstance of adjustment within the international
order to allow for changes in the distribution of power and maintain its main features and characteristics.
See also footnote 12 below.
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continue to evolve (Ikenberry, 2009). It can be more or less tied to the existing norms
and institutions, it can be more or less open, and more or less rule-based or
institutionalized.
The nature of international organizations
Irrespective of the issue that one considers in world politics, being it conflict, economic
or financial matters, humanitarian issues, environmental concerns, or any other, one is
bound to find international organizations involved. Their function is much more than just
executing international agreements between states. They shape the global international
order and, particularly since World War II, they are central to order building and its
maintenance. They often make authoritative decisions that have global reach. In many
situations, international organizations act as facilitators of policy coordination, as
mechanisms for managing and legitimizing the solutions to problems that managed
otherwise by independent states in an interdependent world, would simply remain
unsolved.
In essence, international organizations are bureaucracies, which continue to be the
privileged framework for organizing work in a complex world (Weber, 1947; Weber, Roth
and Wittich, 1978). Bureaucracies are considered to be the most efficient system of
organization and the most effective way to rationalize processes in the current world,
given some of the features that are associated with it, namely spheres of competence
defined within a division of labour with some form of hierarchy. In addition, the necessary
work and the pursuit of the defined objectives are carried out according to rules and
operating procedures, and irrespective of the people working there in a particular
moment, that is, they are impersonal. They allow an organization to respond more
effectively and predictably to demands. As such, bureaucracies are sets of rules that
define complex social tasks within a certain division of labour in the pursuit of certain
objectives.
Bureaucracies also affect the behaviour of others actors within the international system,
such as countries and other bureaucracies (Krasner, 1983; Keohane, 1984). They also
define and create rules that have an impact on the social world. Such an example would
be the case of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in the sense of creating rules for
managing balance-of-payments problems, or activities in the sense of institutionalized
procedures for solving specific problems or accomplishing certain tasks. Not least
important, bureaucratic culture tends to guide action, although it does not determine it,
in the sense that bureaucrats tend to share a similar view of the world because those
bureaucracies influence their interests and shape their views (Campbell, 1998;
Immergut, 1987; Swidler, 1986).
Another crucial theme related to international organizations is power.
7
Much can be said
about power and international organizations and, in that respect, it is important to
distinguish power in international organizations from the power of those organizations.
More specifically, one can think of power within organizations in the sense of the capacity
and the ability that members of those organizations have in the creation and functioning
of those organizations. The same can be said in terms of negotiating ability and agenda-
setting capability. However, here I wish to focus on the power of organizations. That is,
7
For a good discussion on power and international organizations see, for instance, Barkin (2013).
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the idea that these international organizations have independent power and one that is
non-military. That power can also be expressed in terms of influence within those
organizations, namely through agenda setting and the creation of procedures. An
example would be the United Nations, concerning international peace and security. This
power arises from moral authority, which provides the specific organization with
legitimacy to act in a depoliticized manner and from an imparcial standpoint. However,
it can also be used to push forward certain particular political positions and agendas.
The other source of power in international organizations is the production and control of
information. Often, this authoritative power is related to the ability to make use of
“epistemic communities” (Haas, 1992: 3), which allows organizations to present
themselves as depoliticized and to emphasize an objective point of view with regard to
knowledge. Again, a good example of this would be the IMF with respect to some claim
regarding monetary policy prescriptions, but many other organizations can also provide
similar examples. It is because bureaucrats possess information that others do not or,
alternatively, because they can influence what information other actors should collect
and reveal that they can increase their control over outcomes. In addition, bureaucratic
power can include the ability to transform information into knowledge, giving it meaning,
which can also have an effect in shaping social reality. All this provides a way of
establishing rules and norms that international organizations wish to spread as models
of good and adequate behaviour (Finnemore, 1996; Katzenstein, 1996; Legro, 1997).
One of the functions of international organizations is considered to be the creation,
spreading and enforcement of values and norms that are supposed to define what
constitutes the acceptable and legitimate state behaviour.
Different approaches to study international organizations
Traditionally, international organizations have been studied from an institutional
perspective (Kratochwil and Ruggie, 1986). From this perspective, which is a static one
and does not allow understanding many of the changes that occur in these institutions,
the way to proceed is generally through the study of their formal structures, organizing
principles and hierarchies, which enables understanding what a specific organization can
and cannot do. For instance, it would be impossible to understand the actions and politics
of the United Nations without knowing how the veto power of the five permanent
members of the Security Council works. The same can be said for the lending procedures
of the IMF or the World Bank without being familiar with voting procedures. In addition,
it is important to take into consideration that these organizations have both
administrative employees and political appointees. A key distinction should be made
here, given that the primary loyalty of the former is towards the organization and its
goals whereas the primary loyalty of the latter is towards their respective governments.
This has important implications for international governmental organizations.
Funcionalist and neofunctionalist approaches attempt to deal with the fact that
international organizations change and evolve over time as new demands appear and
become more international fuelled by increased cooperation. The difference between the
former and the latter is that the latter also attempts to account for political demands and
integration processes in addition to technical ones (Barkin, 2013: 29-40). Some
funcionalist perspectives consider that international organizations exist due to the
functions they perform, in the sense that states create them to try and overcome
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problems and difficulties that otherwise would not be possible, or simply too costly. Their
attention tends to focus on issues related to transaction costs, incomplete information
and other barriers that states try to overcome, but, in essence, they do not account for
a more independent role by international organizations, one that allows the creation of
independent agendas.
Notwithstanding, it is worth noting that funcionalist analysis also leaves open other
important dimensions that have become increasingly important over the recent years,
and particularly in the current international environment and with the current U.S.
administration. Most notably, a number of international organizations, such as the United
Nations, the World Trade Organization, and the UNESCO, among others, have become a
battleground for states to operate in order to safeguard their interests within world
politics, reflecting the power shifts that are occurring.
8
Although there is a risk of this
situation endangering the maintenance of the current international order in time,
particularly if it persists, it does not undermine the correctness of my main argument.
The predominant approach for analysing international organizations in the international
politics realm is, in all probability, regime analysis.
9
According to this approach,
international organizations are considered to be formal structures that “can be defined
as sets of implicit or explicit principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures
around which actors’ expectations converge in a given area of international relations”
(Krasner, 1983: 2). As such, they also often lead to the creation of institutions, and some
of which are international organizations that promote cooperation (Krasner, 1983;
Keohane, 1984; Young, 1982, 1986). Some authors even argue that a regime always
exists when there is a regular pattern of behaviour that is sustainable for a significant
length of time (Puchala and Hopkins, 1982). In this sense, regimes and behaviour are
closely linked. In turn, this may help maintain the current order. However, a crucial idea
in this approach is that international organizations have no agency. Their role is the usual
image of international organizations seen as instruments that states use to achieve their
own goals (Archer, 2014: 117).
Significantly, and differently from what is generally considered in regime theory, several
international relations authors, some of whom with a constructivist leaning, have
disputed the value of the rational actor’s approach to the study of institutions. They tend
to adopt a more process-oriented perspective, whereby institutions constitute actors
(states) but also constrain them, and which leads policy-makers to take into
consideration norms and rules in their decision-making processes (Ruggie, 1982;
Kratochwil and Ruggie, 1986; Krasner 1988; Keohane, 1988). From their perspective,
international organizations promote norm dissemination because of the focus on trying
to generate consensus through multilateralism. According to Acharya (2006: 113)
“Without multilateralism, the norms of sovereignty would not have become so prominent
a feature of the post-war international order”. Operating according to international norms
leads to norm dissemination, where a norm can be identified as “a standard of
appropriate behaviour for actors with a given identity” (Finnemore and Sikkink, 1998:
891). Furthermore, it facilitates domestic approval for action like “international rules and
norms can affect national policy choices by operating through the domestic political
process (Cortell and Davis, 1996: 471). Moreover, norms matter and they have a real
8
I am grateful to one of the anonymous referees for pointing this out to me.
9
International regimes are generally considered to be multilateral agreements based on the notion that
international cooperation is possible and occurs.
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and relevant impact on the way states behave. This occurs either through ‘regulative’
effets, in the sense that they induce states to behave in a certain way, or in a
‘constitutive’ way, which means that they influence the preferences and interests of
states (Glanville, 2016: 186-187). Others argue that under certain restrictive conditions
of the failure of individual actions by states to secure Pareto-optimal outcomes,
international regimes may play an important role in the international system, despite its
anarchic nature (Stein, 1982; Jervis, 1982).
Notwithstanding the relevance of the different approaches to organizational analysis, the
focus here takes a different perspective, most notably from what is generally considered
in the positive theory of institutions in general. The argument here is more of a
sociological nature and does not necessarily follow a rational approach perspective.
10
It
is based on the new institutionalism literature in organizational analysis that considers
the homogeneity of practices and arrangements found in different institutions and
organizations. The persistence of those practices and their reproduction in structures are,
to a certain extent, self-sustaining. Nevertheless, most significantly, it also allows for
changes in the distribution of power within the international order.
This different approach is based on arguments of a particular type of new institutionalism,
whereby normal organizational structures reflect technical demands and resource
dependencies, but which are also shaped by institutional forces that include rational
myths, knowledge legitimated through the educational system, by the professions, and
the law. Organizations are deeply embedded in social and political environments. In
addition, these organizational practices and structures also reflect, or are responses to,
rules, beliefs, and conventions built into the wider environment. This perspective has a
clear sociological flavour that distinguishes it from the remaining ones.
Much of this is also related to the work of Bourdieu (1977, 1980, 1984) and Bourdieu
and Wacquant (1992), which follows a reflexive epistemology and a relational ontology
that builds on the notion of ‘habitus’ and fields. Bourdieu’s concept of habitus consists of
a system of dispositions that originate in social structures but that are so deeply
internalized by actors that they generate behaviour even after the original structural
conditions have changed (Swartz, 1997, particularly p. 101). Bourdieu’s notions of
fields
11
and symbolic capital deepen our understanding of the network not only as a
system of knowledge flows an instrument or means but also as an important
phenomenon in its own right. The core idea here is that there are processes within
organization theory that are pertinent to the realm of international
institutions/organizations. These processes may be industrywide, national or
international in scope. It can also be considered that this perspective shares common
ground with the work of Wendt (1987, 1999).
The mechanisms of institutional isomorphism and homogenization
The central argument of the new sociological institutionalism lies on the processes of
institutional homogenization (Lawrence and Suddaby, 2006; Tempel and Walgenbach,
2007). This follows, particularly, from the seminal contribution by Meyer and Rowan
(1977) and DiMaggio and Powell (1983). Meyer and Rowan argue that many formal
10
On this subject, see Powell and DiMaggio (1991, specially the introduction).
11
That is, networks or social arenas within which struggles occur for scarce resources.
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organizational structures come about as reflections of rational rules, with institutional
rules functioning as myths that organizations incorporate in their structure and mode of
operating, thereby also gaining legitimacy and stability. These authors argue that in order
to achieve legitimacy, organizations tend to construct stories about their actions and
activities. These stories are used as forms of symbolic reassurance to appease influencial
people or the public in general. The focus of DiMaggio and Powell (1983) is on processes
of institutional homogenization, as well as similarity of practices and arrangements in
institutions. In essence, they developed the former theme further. Noting the remarkable
similarity of organizations in contemporary industrialized societies, they question why
organizations tend to become so similar to each other. Their central argument is that
organizations tend to incorporate practices, rules and procedures that have been
institutionalized and, in establishing how this process occurs, they highlight coercive,
mimetic, and normative processes of reproduction that lead to the isomorphic
organizational structures that generate increased legitimacy. Rather than because of
competition, or objectives connected to greater efficiency, organizations attempt to
obtain legitimacy in their environments in response to institutional pressures. This
homogeneity of practices leads to a constant and repetitive modus operandis in organized
life that may not be easily explained by a rational-actor approach.
According to DiMaggio and Powell (1983: 150): “Coercive isomorphism results from both
formal and informal pressures exerted on organizations by other organizations upon
which they are dependent and by cultural expectations in the society within which
organizations function”. As such, coercive factors may also involve political pressures and
the force of the state, and, in some cases, even provide regulatory oversight and control,
namely through defining measures and procedures that need to be implemented by the
actors within those regulated industries. However, they can also arise from cultural
expectations. In the case of international organizations, one can also think of
isomorphism resulting from more subtle and indirect processes.
A second source of institutional isomorphism is mimesis (DiMaggio and Powell, 1983:
151). This mechanism works in the sense that actors are pulled towards certain types of
organizational models, and often times of work and behaviour, as they find those
solutions to be attractive to the problems they face, or favourable in terms of
advancement and recognition. This imitation of institutional templates legitimated in the
organizations field often makes up for a lack of rationality of the decision and, last but
not least, becomes a saveguard in the case of failure, as one is able to demonstrate
having done “what should have been done” or acted “according to correct procedures”.
This mimetic isomorphism can be seen as a response to uncertainty and as a source of
legitimation (DiMaggio and Powell, 1983: 155; Kalev et al, 2006; Meyer and Jepperson,
2000; Meyer and Rowan, 1977; Powell and DiMaggio, 1991).
There is also isomorphism that results from normative factors that stem from the
influence of the professions and the role of education, many of them with great authority
and influence, as well as mimetic forces drawn on habitual and taken-for-granted
responses to circumstances of uncertainty. For instance, universities and other
professional training institutions diffuse standards across national boundaries and often
become “best practicesin any given profession. As such, they “are important centres
for the development of organizational norms among professional managers and their
staff” (DiMaggio and Powell, 1983: 152). Moreover, they function as developers of
common practices and ways of thinking, thereby favouring professionals in organizations
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at various levels to become alike in background, education and orientation. In many
organizations, notably international governmental organizations, there is often an
informal filtering in hiring. A similar situation occurs thoughout career progression that
also favours isomorphism. In this context, Kontinen and Onali (2017) provide a good
example of normative institutional isomorphism involving nongovernmental
organizations (NGOs).
The three mechanisms pointed above may not be easy to distinguish from each other
empirically. They are separate but can, and most likely do, operate simultaneously, with
their results not being easily identifiable.
12
That issue needs not detain us here. More
relevant is the notion that in order to survive, organizations need to convince the
environment in which they operate that they are legitimate and that, as a result, they
deserve to exist. Organizations have a need to perpetuate these symbolic and ceremonial
activities about their activities. They become part of the environment, that is, they
become institutionalized. No doubt, international organizations are not immune to these
influences, given that their respective bureaucracies also play a determinant role in the
way they operate. In addition, some of these processes are also likely to influence
political representatives in these organizations and the policies of the single states. The
persistence of those practices in these international (governmental) organizations and
taken-for-granted ways of proceeding in terms of behaviour and attitudes favours a
reproduction of structures that provides additional support to the maintenance of the
current international order.
Conclusion
New institutionalism has become a leading approach within organizational analysis,
particularly among north-american organizational sociologists. The main idea is that
organizations need to gain legitimacy in order to survive and, as a result, they tend to
create myths about themselves, often through symbolic and ceremonial activities. Those
become institutionalized and deeply embedded in social and political environments.
We are witnessing power transitions within the international system and it is not yet
obvious how this will affect the present international order, not least to what extent.
However, despite those power transitions, the fundamental nature of the current
international order needs not to change dramatically or, seen from a different
perspective, may change at a much slower pace. Many arguments from a liberal
institutionalist perspective have argued precisely that. However, in addition to that, the
argument presented here is that there are institutional processes and mechanisms that
have been studied in organizational theory within the New Institutional Theory that may
well provide additional support to the idea of an enduring order. These processes tend to
impact organizations in general and irrespective of the area of activity and socio-political
context, and, as such, they are likely to influence international organizations as well. The
end result may well be that they are likely to play a role in the maintenance of the current
12
For instance, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank surely displays elements of isomorphism with the
World Bank of both mimetic and normative factors at work, albeit not necessarily easy to identify. This
would result from the adoption of similar organizational structures, rules and rituals, as many of the existing
features in one organization are present in the other in terms of acting “according to correct and best
procedures”.
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e-ISSN: 1647-7251
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Institutional isomorphism and the persistence of the present international order
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international order which, consequently, may last longer than is often thought, while
accommodating some of the shifts in power that are taking place.
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