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From organizational to institutional change

Sohail Inayatullah (Professor, Graduate Institute of Futures Studies, Tamkang University; Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast, and Center for Social Change Research, Queensland University of Technology. E‐mail: web site:

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 1 March 2005




To provide a futures‐oriented perspective on institutional change.


Presents methods and case studies of attempts to engage in institutional change. An international authority on future studies draws on his field to provide a futures‐oriented perspective on institutional change. This perspective includes the use of futures tools, strategy, capacity building, the central role of memes, emergence of self‐organization, and the underlying role of meaning and symbols. Five case studies are used to illustrate these principles.


One company was struggling over its governing choice of institutional metaphor: the tortoise versus the hare. Another was caught up in treating hackers as good versus evil, but realized that they needed new concepts to grasp the frontier of cyberspace. A third case involved moving from developing a monolithic plan to forming self‐organizing groups of stakeholders that actually created a collective new vision. A city council was able to recognize the need to shift toward an innovative organizational structure. The final case challenged a group of mayors to adopt a “rainforest” model of cities that is inclusive, green, human‐centered.


Mapping, understanding and transforming the “myths” discussed in this paper are crucial for the move from individual to organization to institutional change.



Inayatullah, S. (2005), "From organizational to institutional change", On the Horizon, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 46-53.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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