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Being Apart Together: Convergence and Divergence in the Field of Dutch Politics

Structure, Content and Meaning of Organizational Networks

ISBN: 978-1-78714-434-7, eISBN: 978-1-78714-433-0

ISSN: 0733-558X

Publication date: 26 September 2017


Organizations from the same industry or field often tend to become more similar over time, despite being different in terms of for example strategies, goals, or performance. However, recently scholars pointed out that organizational fields are dynamic entities with permeable boundaries, thus indicating that prior literature may have oversimplified the phenomenon. Indeed, in this paper we draw attention to an organizational field that centers on text, and revolves around shared (or debated) meaning stemming from that text. The guiding research question is, “To what extent do organizations converge or diverge from meaning embedded in interconnected text?” We investigate party manifestos and press releases of organizations from the field of politics, focusing on the topic of immigration. We extract meaning from these texts, using document scaling and similarity analysis. Our results show that while most parties become more similar in their framing of immigration, the anti-immigrant PVV actually radicalizes further and as a result takes an isolated position in the policy space. Thus, Dutch political organizations became similar (converge) as well as different (diverge) over time through interaction, in terms of their shared meaning systems. This paper substantiates findings of isomorphic tendencies of organizations within a shared organizational field. At the same time, we find that Dutch politics constitute an issue field, where parties compete about meanings and framings on controversial issues. Our analysis shows that meaning embedded in texts changes over time; this indicates that change mechanisms in organizational fields may be brought about through changes in meaning systems.




The authors would like to thank Mariken van der Velden for her feedback on the manuscript and for sharing the press release data (see Van der Velden et al., 2017).


van Atteveldt, W., Moser, C. and Welbers, K. (2017), "Being Apart Together: Convergence and Divergence in the Field of Dutch Politics", Structure, Content and Meaning of Organizational Networks (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 53), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 49-64.



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