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date: 22 September 2017

Abstract and Keywords

This article briefly discusses the background and the intellectual context in which evolutionary thinking about organizations and institutions has been growing and developing. It emphasizes the mechanisms through which inter-organizational evolution is assumed to operate and provides examples of how they might be working across levels of organizational analysis. Any characterization of inter-organizational evolution is highly dependent on the principles behind the definition of these aggregate entities. For this reason, this article links this general discussion about the origins of evolutionary thinking in the study of organizations to conceptions of organizational environments. Building on the insight of ecological approaches to the study of organizations, this article presents ways in which inter-organizational relations (IORs) have been examined among members of organizational populations and communities. This article examines studies of IORs that have built more explicitly on network representations, models, and imagery, with reference to organizational fields rather than populations and communities.

Keywords: evolutionary thinking, inter-organizational evolution, ecological approaches, inter-organizational relations, network representations

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