isomorphism; nongovernmental organization; government; partnership; slum housing; India


Neo-institutional approaches to the study of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) suggest that as more NGOs cooperate with the state, they become isomorphic in their structures and processes. Such cooperation is expected to threaten inventiveness of the NGO sector, including its spontaneity, variety, and unpredictability. This article analyzes the internal institutional processes of three leading housing NGOs as they each implemented cooperative strategies with the state in Mumbai, India. It finds that, contrary to customary apprehensions, NGOs use different tactics in response to the same public policy environment. The article argues that pervasive isomorphism is constrained by path dependency and variability in resource environments.


Original Citation: Ramanath, Ramya. "Limits to Institutional Isomorphism: Examining Internal Processes in NGO–Government Interactions." Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 38, no. 1 (2009): 51-76.