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Institutional Complexity of National Systems and the Fate of Global Microfinance Open Access


Other title
Institutional Complexity
Institutional Logics
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Zhao, Yanfei
Supervisor and department
Lounsbury, Michael (Strategic Management and Organization)
Examining committee member and department
Jennings, P. Devereaux (Strategic Management and Organization)
Durand, Rodolphe (HEC Paris)
Gehman, Joel (Strategy Management and Organization)
Greenwood, Royston (Strategic Management and Organization)
Lounsbury, Michael (Strategic Management and Organization)
Faculty of Business
Strategic Management and Organization
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
I advance a theory of how institutional complexity of national systems shapes the fate of hybrid organizations. In particular, I investigate how various prevailing societal logics independently and jointly affect the founding and social mission focus of microfinance organizations (MFOs); a form of hybrid organization distinguished by lending to poor people, particularly women. Although the fate of organizational forms and practices is generally linked to that of the cultural frames that support them, I show that logics may act and interact in various ways to shape these outcomes. Drawing on neoliberal economics and gender inequality studies, I identify two logics, market and patriarchy, that are theoretically relevant to microfinance, globally prevalent, and variously influential across countries. I hypothesize and test (1) how market and patriarchy logics independently and interactively shape microfinance founding and the lending focus on women; (2) how the financial performance of an MFO affects its social mission fulfillment and how this effect is contingent upon heterogeneous configurations of market and patriarchy logics across nations; and (3) how the two logics shape capital flows into microfinance. Empirical analyses of these questions are based on a sample of MFOs in 111 developing countries between 1995 and 2007 and data on the funding structure of MFOs between 2007 and 2010. In addition to showing how hybrid organizations in general are affected by institutional complexity, the findings have practical implications for microfinance, where prominent groups promote market logic as a means to grow the sector and expand its outreach.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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