Tag Archives: neo-institutionalism

Mayer Zald: A Mensch Ahead of His Time

By Calvin Morrill

With a twinkle in his eye and a couple of questions, Mayer Zald appeared in the doorway of my office in the Sociology Department at the University of Arizona late one afternoon in 1997 during one of his many winters teaching in Tucson.  His questions?  When can you have lunch and could he borrow a copy of a book I had written on organizational conflict.[i]  He also suggested that I read his 1978 AJS piece[ii] on social movements in organizations since we had mutual interests in social conflict.  A week or so later at lunch, we talked about what he found most intriguing about my book – the near absence of collective action among managers across the thirteen organizations in the study.  He then pivoted the conversation to a sociology-of-knowledge puzzle about his own career: the dramatically different trajectories of his most famous piece, his and John McCarthy’s 1977 ASR[iii] article on resource mobilization and social movements, and the 1978 social movements in organizations piece. While the resource mobilization piece became a near-instant classic upon its publication (and continues to enjoy iconic status to the present), the 1978 article, as Mayer put it, “fell into an intellectual black hole” and was cited less than a dozen times over the next decade.  The puzzle was why? Continue reading

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Filed under Essay Dialogues, Organizational Theory and Social Movements