You are here


See organizational forms for the organizational demographics perspective on form.

""Forms"" and ""architectures""-- clarifying the terminology (Carroll & Hannan, 2000, 64-65) --
The organizational demographics perspective used to define organizational populations for study defines form in a very specific way. It is important to distinguish this usage from other terms which may be, but should not, be used as synonyms for the term ""form.""

  • M-form, etc. -- the selection-favored perspective referring to a conglomerate of features, such as the M-form (multidivisional) that is a successful form of organization. Most discussions about new forms of organization imply a certain degree of organizational fitness.
  • organizational architecture -- the organizational architecture perspective. Architectures and forms in Carroll & Hannan's sense are quite different. Forms, or organizational forms, are related to organizational identity, where identity is defined in terms of social codes (comprised of sets of social rules and signals) that specify the features that an organization can legitimately possess.

    Architectures rarely matter decisively for identity in two senses. First, architectures vary considerably with forms. For instance, M-form organizations can be found in many populations of differing forms (i.e. identities). Second, organizations routinely change their architectures without changing their identities. It is imperative to distinguish architecture and form.

  • inertia theory -- a third usage of form differentiates between possible local adaptation steps and deep structural changes. According to inertia theory changing a core feature exposes the an organization to great risk of mortality, but change in peripheral features does not increase mortality chances and might indeed reduce them. According to this theory, the core features are those that regulate membership in a form.

Gravity of organizational change -- The form concept helps to explain why changing form is more difficult and precarious than other kinds of organizational changes.