The State as a Historical Construct in Organization Studies

Marcelo Bucheli, Jin Uk Kim

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Organization scholars have typically considered the state as a fixed and stable actor who legitimizes organizations and organizational fields through top-down pressure. It is argued that the state itself should be incorporated as a variable rather than constant since it has its own historically determined characteristics and its past shapes its current relationship with organizations. A conceptualization of the state as an organization resulting from antecedent conflicts between heterogeneous groups is proposed with multiple economic and social interests over economic resources, norms, and values. It is shown that the very legitimacy of the state and shifts in its legitimization strategies in the face of social and political changes provides a more dyadic and dynamic understanding of the state–firm relationship. By interpreting various historical examples the chapter shows how political history may enrich organizational studies and how organizational scholars may adopt this approach in their own endeavors.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOrganizations in Time
Subtitle of host publicationHistory, Theory, Methods
EditorsMarcelo Bucheli, R. Daniel Wadhwani
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780199646890
StatePublished - Feb 5 2014


  • political history
  • organizational legitimacy
  • institutions
  • business history


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