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Acad Manage J. 1991 Sep;34(3):636-61.

Isomorphism and external support in conflicting institutional environments: a study of drug abuse treatment units.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Michigan.


Using institutional theory, we developed predictions about organizational units that moved from an environment making consistent demands to one making conflicting demands. Many community mental health centers have diversified into drug abuse treatment. The units providing those services face conflicting demands from the traditional mental health sector and the new drug abuse treatment sector about which clients to serve, how to assess their problems, and who should provide treatment. We propose that in response to such demands these units will adopt apparently conflicting practices. Also, isomorphism with the traditional sector will be positively associated with external support from parent mental health centers and other actors in the mental health sector. Results generally support those predictions.

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