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Walter W. Powell

American sociologist

Walter W. (Woody) Powell (born August 15, 1951), is a contemporary American sociologist, and Professor of Education, Sociology, Organizational Behavior, Management Science and Engineering, and Communication at Stanford University and the Stanford Graduate School of Education since 1999. He is known for his contributions to organizational theory, in particular to the new institutionalism and network theory.

QuotesEdit

  • Our contribution to the study of organisations will be greatly enriched if we are able to discern the sources of institutional patterns, their subsequent elaboration and potency, the degree to which these forces are sustained, and the kinds of settings where they operate with the greatest resonance. This agenda is consonant with the core insights of the institutional approach: modern organisations are more likely to arise, expand, and survive in those settings where the social environment creates and sustains the basic building blocks of formal, rational organisation.
    • Walter W. Powell, "Expanding the scope of institutional analysis." The new institutionalism in organizational analysis (1991) In P. J. DiMaggio and W. Powell (eds.) The New Institutionalism and Organizational Analysis, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 183-203. p. 188
  • Sociologists and anthropologists have long been concerned with how individuals are linked to one another and how these bonds of affiliation serve as both a lubricant for getting things done and a glue that provides order and meaning to social life. The attention to networks of association, which began in earnest in the 1970s, provided welcome texture and dynamism to portraits of social life. This work stood in stark contrast to the reigning approaches in the social sciences. In contrast to deterministic cultural (oversocialized) accounts, network analysis afforded room for human agency, and in contrast to individualist, atomized (undersocialized) approaches, networks emphasized structure and constraint (Granovetter, 1985). Network studies offered a middle ground, a third way, even if no one was quite sure whether networks were a metaphor, a method, or a theory (Barnes 1979). But the sociologists and anthropologists who initially studied networks did not pay sustained attention to economic activity, although some industrial sociologists (Roy, 1954; Dalton, 1959) had long stressed the role of informal networks as an antidote to formal organization practices and structures.
    • Walter W. Powell and Laurel Smith-Doerr. "Networks and economic life." The handbook of economic sociology. (1994). p. 368-380; introduction.
  • When the knowledge base of an industry is both complex and expanding and the sources of expertise are widely dispersed, the locus of innovation will be found in networks of learning, rather than in individual firms.
    • Walter W. Powell, Kenneth W. Koput, and Laurel Smith-Doerr. "Interorganizational collaboration and the locus of innovation: Networks of learning in biotechnology." Administrative science quarterly (1996): 116-145.
  • Powerfully positioned middlemen extract value by interrupting or distorting information.
    • Jason Owen-Smith and Walter W. Powell. "Knowledge networks as channels and conduits: The effects of spillovers in the Boston biotechnology community." Organization science 15.1 (2004): 5-21; p. 16
  • We define the knowledge economy as production and services based on knowledge-intensive activities that contribute to an accelerated pace of technical and scientific advance, as well as rapid obsolescence. The key component of a knowledge economy is a greater reliance on intellectual capabilities than on physical inputs or natural resources.
    • Walter W. Powell and Kaisa Snellman. "The knowledge economy." Annu. Rev. Sociol. 30 (2004): 199-220.

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

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.

See Paul J. DiMaggio, "The iron cage revisited: Institutional isomorphism and collective rationality in organizational fields," 1983

Introduction to The New Institutionalism and Organizational Analysis, 1991Edit

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.

See Paul J. DiMaggio, Introduction to The New Institutionalism and Organizational Analysis, 1991

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