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Identity as Constraint and Resource in Interest Group Evolution: A Case of Radical Organizational Change


  • Darren Halpin,

  • Carsten Daugbjerg

Research Highlights and Abstract

  • demonstrates that the tools of Historical Institutionalism are valuable for interest group scholars in assessing change
  • offers a way to conceptualize and empirically differentiate between radical and routine change within interest group organisations
  • shows that a group's founding mission is both a constraint and a resource for radical group change.

While group scholars have long noted instances of change in overall organisational form—say from amateur scientific group to environmental campaign group—the literature is short on persuasive accounts of the mechanism(s) that drive or constrain such radical types of change. How can we explain groups getting from form A to form B? In this article we explore how tools from the historical institutionalism literature might aid in the analytical process. Specifically we focus on the combination of focussing events, internal challengers to the status quo, and the capability of challengers to demonstrate to key audiences that the ‘radical’ change is in some way consistent with the founding identity of the group. We demonstrate the application of this approach by examining a case of radical change—a shift in overall form—in a well-known UK interest group, the Soil Association.