Department of Government
Honorary Lecture

March/Olsen Honorary Lecture (H23): Professor Walter W. Powell

On Friday, August 25th 2023, the Department of Government was pleased to host this year's March / Olsen Honorary Lecture with Professor Walter W. (Woody) Powell as the distinguished speaker. The title of the lecture by Professor Powell was called "The Iron Cage Redux - Looking Back and Forward".

The March / Olsen Honorary Lecture

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The annual March / Olsen Honorary Lecture is a celebration of James G. March and Johan P. Olsen's significant contributions to organizational theory and institutional theory. The Department of Government has had a longstanding collaboration with both March and Olsen, and their work has greatly influenced the academic direction of the department. This year's speaker is Professor Walter W. (Woody) Powell. In 1983, Powell, together with DiMaggio, published the article "The Iron Cage Revisited" - an article that has been of great inspiration within institutional theory. 2023 marks the 40th anniversary of the publication, and it is with great pleasure that we welcomed Powell as this year's speaker.

Professor Walter W. (Woody) Powell is a distinguished scholar and academic known for his groundbreaking work in sociology and organizational theory and his longstanding contributions to institutional analysis, organizational behavior, and management science. Woody Powell is Jacks Family Professor of Education (and) Professor of Sociology, Organizational Behavior, Management Science and Engineering, and Communication at Stanford University, and Sarah Miller McCune Interim Director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS). He is also an External Faculty member at the Santa Fe Institute. He was a founding co-director of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS) in 2006. At PACS, he heads the Civic Life of Cities Lab, which studies civil society organizations in the SF Bay Area, Seattle, Shenzhen, Sydney, Taipei, and Vienna. From 1999 – 2010, he was director of the Scandinavian Consortium for Organizational Research (SCANCOR) at Stanford, and he continues his involvement through supervising the postdoctoral fellows and leading the annual PhD workshop in Europe. He has received honorary degrees from Uppsala University, Copenhagen Business School, and the Helsinki School of Economics, and is a foreign member of the Swedish Royal Academy of Science and The British Academy. His recent books include The Emergence of Organizations and Markets, with John F. Padgett (Princeton University Press) and The Nonprofit Sector, co-edited with Patricia Bromley (Stanford University Press). His research interests focus on the processes through which ideas and practices are transferred across organizations, and the role of networks in facilitating or hindering innovation. Throughout his career, Professor Powell has made significant contributions to the understanding of organizations, networks, and the ways in which they shape societal outcomes. He has published numerous influential articles and co-authored several acclaimed books, including “The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis” (1991).

For additional info, see:

Civic Life of Cities Lab

Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences

Santa Fe Institute

Recording of the Honorary Lecture:

March/Olsen Honorary Lecture (H23) - Professor Walter W. Powell



The PowerPoint slides of the presentation can be found below.