The Iron Cage Redux: Looking Back and Forward

Walter W. Powell, Paul J. DiMaggio

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This seems an opportune time to reflect on our paper, The Iron Cage Revisited, some 40 years after its original publication. In this essay, we recall the influences on us at the time, speculate on factors that shaped its subsequent reception, and assess selective strands of work that it may have influenced. By today’s standards, it was a relatively short paper, only 14 pages, yet it has had a long life and a generous audience (68,624 citations according to Google Scholar on Oct. 15, 2023). We divide the essay into four parts: (a) our experiences at Yale in the early 1980s and the influences on us; (b) thoughts on the reception of the paper shortly after it was published; (c) reactions to the attention it subsequently received; and (d) brief reflections on subsequent institutional lines of work that we have followed. We conclude with thoughts on theorizing in organization studies.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    JournalOrganization Theory
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Oct 1 2023


    • institutional theory
    • iron cage
    • isomorphism

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
    • Strategy and Management


    Dive into the research topics of 'The Iron Cage Redux: Looking Back and Forward'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this