AK3016 Organizational theory and History: Science, Technology and Institutions 7.5 credits

Organisationsteori och historiska studier av teknik, vetenskap och institutioner

  • Education cycle

    Third cycle
  • Main field of study

  • Grading scale

    P, F

At present this course is not scheduled to be offered.

Intended learning outcomes

After completed course the students should be able to identify and account for central themes and key arguments put forward in literature of organizational theory and institutional analysis. This includes some broader themes such as: studies of organizational change and stability, organizational structure, concept of institutions, interaction and boundaries between organizations, and institutional logics. Course participants should also be able to show ability to relate themes and questions to the topic of their own doctoral thesis during seminar discussions and in a written course essay. The students should also be capable of analysing and discussing empirical cases from the course literature and show ability to reflect over relevance and implications of organizational theory and institutional frameworks of analysis for studies of history of science and technology.

Course main content

The course is covering some key references in organizational theory and institutional analysis. Students are preparing for seminars by reading and preparing questions for discussion about main arguments put forward in the literature, choice of empirical case studies and synthesis of conclusions drawn from the readings and implication on the students' own area of work. The seminars are based on lectures and students' own review of the course literature. The lectures and seminars are encompassing themes in studies of organizations and institutions, experiences from international empirical studies, and studies from the Nordic innovation landscape. The seminars with theoretical focus that are included in the course  as well as some more theoretical components of thelectures are adressing: structure of organizations, interactions between and within organizations; institutions (rules, norms and cognitive categories), processes of change within and between organizations. Students' course essays are presented at seminars and students are also opponent to two other students' essays. The presentation seminar will provide opportunity to discuss central themes adressed during the course and also reflect on how they relate to the doctoral students' own topic for their doctoral thesis.

Seminars and lectures are based on the course literature dealing with themes including:

  • Organizations: institutions, change/stability, and institutional logics 
  • Concepts of institutions, networks, organizational fields, sectors and markets
  • Interaction between organizations: collaboration between university and private sector
  • Organizations and emerging technology with examples from history of science and technolog

Lectures on these themes also includes presentations by invited external scholars.


Eligible applicants are students who meet the requirements for admission to graduate studies in history or other humanities and social sciences.


The course includes some key references in organizational theory and institutional analysis, including:

  • Institutional organizations: formal structure as myth and ceremony (Meyer and Rowan 1977);
  • The iron cage revisited: institutional isomorphism and collective rationality in organizational fields (DiMaggio and Powell 1983);
  • The new institutionalism in organizational analysis (Eds. Powell and DiMaggio 1991);
  • Political science and the three new institutionalisms (Hall and Taylor 1996);
  • The problem of emergence (Padgett and Powell 2014);
  • Exchange among Perrow, Williamson, Ouchi and Chandler, Perspectives on organizational design and behavior (1981);
  • Neither market nor hierarchy: network forms of organization (Powell 1990); Institutional evolution and change (Hoffman 1999).

The course also includes studies of organizational change and emerging technology (Granqvist and Laurila 2011), institutional logics (Thornton and Ocasio 2008) and historical institutionalism (Suddaby et al. 2014).


  • UPP1 - Essay, 7.5, grading scale: P, F

Requirements for final grade

Active participation in lectures and seminars, write an essay using relevant course literature, presentation of student´s own written essay, opponent on two other students´ essays.

Offered by

ABE/History of Science, Technology and Environment


Nina Wormbs, nina@kth.se, 08 790 85 83


Sverker Sörlin <sverker.sorlin@abe.kth.se>

Supplementary information

Examination format is a course essay. The students present and act as opponent to two other student’s essays

(in writing and during final seminar). Active participation at seminars and lectures required for passing the

course. In case of absence from maximum two seminars/lectures, the student can write an individual assignment

to complete the course.


Course syllabus valid from: Spring 2016.
Examination information valid from: Spring 2019.