Population Ecology Theory of Organizations

  • Michael R. FordEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-31816-5_74-1



The study of dynamic changes within organizations.


Much of the history of the field of public and nonprofit administration organizations were studied internally in order to answer pressing public and nonprofit management questions. Relevant research topics included bureaucratic structures, group dynamics, and the decision-making process within organizations. The normative goals of organizational theory were to find ways to manipulate structures, group dynamics, and decision-making processes in order to improve organizational performance. The contextual questions in organizational theory tended to focus on the interaction between administrative actors and political actors, issues of regulation, changing policy preferences, and revenue streams. However, scholars like Paul Peterson (1981), Vincent Ostrom (2011), and E.S. Savas (2000) called attention to the varying ways in which local government and nongovernment...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Amburgey TL, Rao H (1996) Organizational ecology: past, present, and future directions. Acad Manage J 39(5):1265–1286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andersson FO, Ford MR (2015) Social entrepreneurship through an organizational ecology lens: examining the emergence and evolution of the voucher school population in Milwaukee. Voluntas 27(4):1760–1780. doi:10.1007/s11266-015-9576-0CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Archibald M (2007) An organizational ecology of national self-help/mutual aid organizations. Nonprofit Volunt Sect Q 36(4):598–621CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Astley WG (1985) The two ecologies: population and community perspectives on organizational evolution. Adm Sci Q 30:224–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Betton J, Dess GG (1985) The application of population ecology models to the study of organizations. Acad Manage Rev 10(4):750–757Google Scholar
  6. Ford MR, Andersson FO (2016) Determinants of organizational failure in the milwaukee school voucher program. Policy Stud J. doi:10.1111/psj.12164Google Scholar
  7. Hager MA, Galaskiewicz J, Larson JA (2004) Structural embeddedness and the liability of newness among nonprofit organizations. Public Manage Rev 6(2):159–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hannan MT, Freeman J (1977) The population ecology of organizations. Am J Sociol 82(5):929–964CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hannan MT, Freeman J (1984) Structural inertia and organizational change. Am Sociol Rev 49(2):149–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ostrom V (2011) The intellectual crisis in American public administration, 3rd edn. The University of Alabama Press, TuscalossaGoogle Scholar
  11. Peterson PE (1981) City limits. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ruef M (2002) At the interstices of organizations: the expansion of the management consulting profession, 1933–97. In: Sahlin-Andersson K, Engwall L (eds) Carriers of management knowledge: ideas and their global circulation. Stanford University Press, StanfordGoogle Scholar
  13. Savas ES (2000) Privatization and public private partnerships. Chatham House Publishers, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  14. Twombly E (2003) What factors affect the entry and exit of nonprofit human service organizations in metropolitan areas? Nonprofit Volunt Sect Q 32(2):211–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Wisconsin-OshkoshOshkoshUSA