July 17, 2009 | Working Papers

Assessing the Structure of Organizational Fields: A Multilevel Latent Class Analysis as a Tool for Institutional Analysis

Authors: Sondra Barringer

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Within organizational research a question researchers are often interested in is the “why” question. A question that is not focused on as frequently is the how question. I argue in this paper that as researchers we need to pay more attention to how organizations are behaving within organizational fields before we begin to answer the why questions and in order to do this researchers need to expand their methodological tool kits. This analysis examines how institutions within the field of higher education have responded to the changing environmental conditions. Using multilevel latent class analysis I show that there are a number of distinct strategies that the organizations within this field are pursing as well as distinct deviations between the behavior of public and nonprofit institutions. This analysis of the changes occurring in the field of higher education demonstrates the ability of MLCA to break the organizational field down into more manageable units which allows for a deeper understanding of the ways in which these fields are changing over time. MLCA makes organizational fields more manageable both empirically and conceptually resulting in a more accurate assessment of the critical dynamics within the organizational fields

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