Institutional Pressure and Failure Dynamics in the Swedish Voucher School Sector

Abiel Sebhatu, Karl Wennberg


We conduct a comparative case study following the growth and decline of the two largest private school organizations in Sweden from the voucher school deregulation in 1992 until the bankruptcy of one of the organization in 2013. Using archival data, hand-coded data on media exposure, interviews with managers and company press releases we explore institutional pressure and school organizations’ responses to institutional conformity and resistance. Both case organizations constitute private equity managed business groups but rely on distinct growth strategies and differential types of political and market-based ties to powerful stakeholders. Our results explain how organizational responses to institutional pressure are intimately tied to organizational structure, and furthermore how conformity may not translate into survival-enhancing conditions as earlier theorized.

Keywords: education, institutional pressure, organizational response, structure, growth and decline

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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413