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Institutions and Wicked Problems


Complex problems; Organizational practices; Organizational structures; Organizations


Institutional structures; Informal practices; Wicked problems; Organizational cultures


New institutionalism:

Broad thrust of new institutionalism is the positioning of collective behavior as patterned by informal institutional norms and values.

Wicked problems:

Wicked problems are unstructured and fluid, have multiple and interconnected parts (i.e., are cross cutting), and can appear relentless – requiring novel approaches to problem solving and cross-governmental integration.

Isomorphic pressures:

“Informal” institutionalized norms and values influence how organizations function, pushing organizations to a homogenous state.


This piece provides an overview of how theories of new institutionalism apply to government and the public sector and how they can be extended. While current research generally focuses on institutionalized practices as a source of inertia,...


  • Public Sector
  • Vertical Integration
  • Informal Institution
  • Central Agency
  • Wicked Problem

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Carey, G., Buick, F., Malbon, E. (2017). Institutions and Wicked Problems. In: Farazmand, A. (eds) Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration, Public Policy, and Governance. Springer, Cham.

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