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From an ecological perspective of organizations, institutions are a cultural factor in organization that constrain and support social structures and processes. These institutions consist of rules, norms, and beliefs.

Rules -- rules are a regulative institution, a system of rules or governance system. The major source of regulatory rules originate with governmental organizations.

Norms - in this case institutions serve as normative systems, structures providing a moral framework for the conduct of social life. Unlike external rules, norms are internalized by participants; behavior is guided by a sense of what is appropriate, by one's social obligations to others, by a commitment to common values.

Beliefs -- in this case institutions serve as cultural-cognitive systems; common symbolic systems and shared meanings. Common cognitive frameworks and understandings support collective action.

Institutional patterns co-evolve with organizational forms.

Source: Scott & Davis, 2007, pp 258-260, 277