Paul DiMaggio

American sociologist

Paul Joseph DiMaggio (born January 10, 1951) is an American educator, and professor of sociology at New York University since 2015. Previously, and former professor of sociology at Princeton University.


  • [Schemata are] knowledge structures that represent objects or events and provide default assumptions about their characteristics, relationships, and entailments under conditions of incomplete information.
    • Paul J. DiMaggio (1997). "Culture and Cognition." Annual Review of Sociology, 23: p. 269.

"The iron cage revisited: Institutional isomorphism and collective rationality in organizational fields," 1983


Paul J. DiMaggio and Walter W. Powell. "The iron cage revisited: Institutional isomorphism and collective rationality in organizational fields." American Sociological Review, 48.2 (1983): 147-160.

  • What makes organizations so similar? We contend that the engine of rationalization and bureaucratization has moved from the competitive marketplace to the state and the professions. Once a set of organizations emerges as afield, a paradox arises: rational actors make their organizations increasingly similar as they try to change them. We describe three isomorphic processes—coercive, mimetic, and normative—leading to this outcome. We then specify hypotheses about the impact of resource centralization and dependency, goal ambiguity and technical uncertainty, and professionalization and structuration on isomorphic change. Finally, we suggest implications for theories of organizations and social change.
    • p. 147; abstract
  • By organizational field, we mean those organizations that, in the aggregate, constitute a recognized area of institutional life: key suppliers, resource and product consumers, regulatory agencies, and other organizations that produce similar services or products.
    • p. 148
  • Organizations may try to change constantly; but, after a certain point in the structuration of an organizational field, the aggregate effect of individual change is to lessen the extent of diversity within the field.
    • p. 148
  • Organizations compete not just for resources and customers, but for political power and institutional legitimacy, for social as well as economic fitness.
    • p. 150.
  • Organizations tend to model themselves after similar organizations in their field that they perceive to be more legitimate or successful.
    • p. 152

Introduction to The New Institutionalism and Organizational Analysis, 1991


Paul J. DiMaggio and Walter W. Powell (1991) "Introduction," In P. J. DiMaggio and W. Powell (eds.) The New Institutionalism and Organizational Analysis, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Institutional theory presents a paradox. Institutional analysis is as old as Emile Durkheim's exhortation to study 'social facts as things', yet sufficiently novel to be preceded by new in much of the contemporary literature.
    • p. 1
  • Institutionalism purportedly represents a distinctive approach to the study of social, economic, and political phenomena; yet it is often easier to gain agreement about what it is not than about what it is.
    • p. 1
  • Although there are as many ‘new institutionalisms’ as there are social science disciplines, this book is about just one of them, the one that has made its mark on organisation theory, especially that branch most closely associated with sociology.
    • p. 1
  • The new institutionalism in organization theory and sociology comprises a rejection of rational-actor models, and interest in institutions as independent variables, a turn toward cognitive and cultural explanations, and an interest in properties of supra-individual units of analysis that cannot be reduced to aggregations or direct consequences of individual’s attributes or motives.
    • p. 8
  • Both the old and new approaches share a scepticism toward rational-actor models of organisation, and each views institutionalisation as a state-dependent process that makes organisations less instrumentally rational by limiting the options they can pursue. Both emphasise the relationship between organisations and their environments, and both promise to reveal aspects of reality that are inconsistent with organisations’ formal accounts. Each approach stresses the role of culture in shaping organisational reality.
    • p. 12
  • The new institutionalism focuses instead on nonlocal environments, either organisational sectors or fields roughly coterminous with the boundaries of industries, professions, or national societies. Environments, in this view, are more subtle in their influence; rather than being co-opted by organisations, they penetrate the organisation, creating the lenses through which actors view the world and the very categories of structure, action and thought.
    • p. 12-13.

Quotes about Paul DiMaggio

  • Paul DiMaggio (1997) has looked at the interaction between cognition and social life. He notes that under everyday circumstances, people organize information via automatic cognition.
    • Wendy Griswold, Cultures and Societies in a Changing World, (2012), p. 173
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